Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Ins And Outs Of My Ins And Outs

Well, I suppose it's about time I got to talking about my SSA in detail here. Not painstaking detail, mind you, but enough that you can get a feel of where I've been in regards to my own thoughts and feelings concerning it. This will be a short summary, and I'll probably go back and talk about certain aspects of it later on.

First of all, let me just straighten out some terminology here. I often times refer to myself as gay or homosexual. By definition, homosexuality means "sexual attraction to, or sexual relations with, members of the same sex." My current sexual experience is limited to mere attraction, but that's still my primary sexual attribute and thus means that, for all intents and purposes, I'm gay. By all means, I don’t mind people who'd rather use other terms to describe themselves, but I don't really like the idea that my calling myself gay is, for the moment, unhealthy. It doesn't mean I identify with the gay lifestyle or gay culture. I call myself gay in the same way that I call myself selfish, greedy, and proud. It's a fact. It's not a desired one, but it's there. I guess it's just me calling a spade a spade.

Now I'm not going to start off by saying when I "found out" I was gay. To tell the truth I'm not too sure. I do remember some instances when I was around 11 or 12 when I'd see a guy on television and think, "Wow, he's cute!" Then, almost humorously, there would be another voice in my head that said "What!? He's a guy!" And it wasn't too long after I realized I liked guys that I started denying it. Not just to other people: I mean to myself. I just ignored it, and not because I thought that by doing so I could make it go away. I wasn't concerned with making it go away. I didn’t want to give it the credit of existing at all.

You might ask why I did this, but I barely know myself. True, I did grow up in the south and hatred toward homosexuals was definitely something I saw, but I don't think that was the reason. I don't think it was because I thought it was a sin, either. Homosexuality was barely addressed in church (if at all) and mom and dad never spoke of it either. I suppose the main reason I didn't like to acknowledge my SSA was because it was just one more thing -- one big thing -- that made me abnormal. I had a history of being picked on at school: It happens when your vocabulary is three grade levels above those of your peers. I didn't want more fuel to add to the fire.

So of course I became a divided individual. I would see a guy at school and think he was gorgeous, then pretend I didn't. I'd look at the girl sitting next to him, try to concentrate on her until I thought I felt attraction, and then say to myself, "Of course you like girls, see?" It simply didn't work. My same-sex attraction needed an outlet, and it found one in the beast that is pornography.

I'm not going to go into that period any more than I have to, one because it's still a fresh wound and painful to think about and two because I don't want to offend the sensibilities of any readers. Let's just say that it was sinful, and even more so because I wouldn't acknowledge it. I would simply go to the computer when no one was home, have my look-see, and then end it without a prayer or a thought of guilt. After all, in my mind I was straight: Why in the world would I look at gay porn?

One night, actually at the start of this summer, I just seemed to break. I can't describe it any more than that. I don't know what it was. It might have been a prayer, a catharsis, an epiphany, I just don't know, and I don't want to sound too dramatic about it, either. I just seemed to crumble under my own emotional weight. The fact that I had been betraying people -- my family, my friends, my God -- just crashed down on me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't breath, couldn't stand up straight. It was just me, alone in my bedroom in a heap and crying out for strength and forgiveness. I didn't find it immediately, either. I went to bed a huddled wreck, but when I woke up I had some resolve. My gayness was going to start entering my thought processes. It had no other choice.

Of course, I didn't know where I stood in regards to my faith. Was I going to be an openly gay Christian, as I knew there were? I knew mom, dad, Rusty and Libby would accept me as that. When I told Rusty, he openly told me that that was what I should be. He saw no problem with a gay man, living with a monogamous partner, being a member of the church. At that point I'd yet to really make up my mind about it. He brushed off my half-hearted objections and we didn't talk about the subject any more. He himself seemed to be proud of how accepting he was. I know that sounds awful of me to say that, but that's the vibe I got. Of course I'm glad he was accepting. It's a hundred times better than the alternative, and I'm sure he's prayed and meditated about the subject a lot since then. As for our relationship, it's like nothing's changed. We're back to being our regular, joking, rough-housing, brotherly selves. Believe me, I'm grateful for that more than I can express in words.

As for myself, well, I discovered the Christian gay blogosphere! I've always been more of a Biblical conservative than Rusty, so I had a hard time accepting the belief that homosexuality wasn't a sin, and I didn't. I found a lot of great ex-gay/ex-gay friendly blogs: Disputed Mutability, Willful Grace and Everyday Thoughts Collected being the main ones. I also found some gay Christian blogs, and I was pleased to see that, for the most part, there was little animosity between the two, and there didn’t have to be. I found a wealth of well-expressed opinions from some truly Christian people, and it inspired me to make my own opinions. (It also defeated that pornography dragon once and for all. How could I go to a site like that after reading a Willful Grace post?) After some praying and some serious thinking, I made the decision that I would commit myself to following God's will, whatever it would be, even if it felt like He had dealt me an unfair hand in doing so.

Of course it's all still really hard. Temptations are still there. I'm not any happier than I was before, but I'm whole. I am one person, one person made in the image of God. That knowledge still amazes me. I'd been told it since childhood, but I've only just started to understand it. I know that a lot of people out there think that I'm wrong, misguided, etc. I encourage them to comment on this blog. I'm going to college, after all. This is a time for me to grow and come into my own. I want to learn, share and become more like Christ. Becoming straight is not the goal, but simply a step on the road there.


Cheryl of the Wilds of C said...

Jay, may I suggest a course of action that has nothing to do with 'gay' or 'straight'?

Ask God not to allow you any earthly romantic relationships until it is the one He has designed for you. Then enter into a romantic relationship with Him.

I prayed that prayer when I was 19 after narrowly escaping marriage to the wrong man. That was 12 years ago. As painful as it has been at times, my singleness journey has been the most rewarding of my life. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

God will enter into the dark places of your heart and mind (we all have them) and He will work His healing and teach you what love really is. When the time comes, you will have far more to offer and your relationship will be a healthy one. 'Delight yourself in Him and He will give you the desires of your heart.' (Psalm 37:4)

I'm sure Randy will have lots to say on this subject. He is able to identify from your perspective better than I can.

My singleness journey isn't over. I'm glad because I am loving the adventure of knowing Him in it. Singleness gives you opportunity to know Him singlemindedly; that is, without distraction.

I'm excited for you

Jay said...

Thanks for the input, Cheryl. I'm excited for me, too.

We share the same sentiment, don't worry. I've never exactly prayed that prayer (though I might now that you mention it :), but I'm not looking to enter a romantic relationship until I'm emotionally and spiritually ready. I doubt that will be within the next four years. It might not even be within the next ten years. Of course it's hard to think that I won't have somebody in that time, especially when I have so many friends who do have significant others, but I'm pulling through.

Thanks for the encouragement.

grace said...

You are so precious!

Many times, guys who are on a path similar to yours get slammed with self-loathing and shame, either accused of it or downright expressing it. I don't see any of that with you and there really is NO PLACE for it in your journey. No matter how much you struggle or are tempted, how difficult it might become over the course of time, please know that you are absolutely loved and cherished above all else, by God, through Christ.

Please pray for me. No details...just pray.


em said...

Jay - thanks so much for sharing about your life. It's interesting and inspirational to hear about other folks' journeys and how God is working in them.

I'm anxious to hear more about you. :-)

Jay said...

Grace: Sure thing, Grace, and thanks again for the encouragement; you know how important it is to me.

Em: I'm anxious to hear more about you, too. I just discovered your blog. Good stuff!

Brady said...

Hi Jay. I found your blog through Grace's. She's one of my favorite online friends, and I can see why she was so eager to point folks over to you.

You're an excelent writer, and it's great to see you sharing your story so openly here. However the journey goes (and I'm sure it will have its ups and downs), I wish you well and pray for strength. Right now it seems like you are off to a great start, though.

Jay said...

Brady: Thanks for the input. I've seen your blog too (congrats on your marriage!) We may have different opinions about certain things, but I hope you know that you're always, always welcome here :)

And if you want to see the ups and downs of my journey, I suggest you keep reading this blog. I'm sure it'll get pretty interesting in the not-too-distant future ;)

Inheritor of Heaven said...

I too found your blog from a comment you made on Grace's. I also agree with your next post (above) on the columnist's rantings. I believe the homosexual sex act is a sin, but for example, so is lusting after a person in your heart. Pornography often fuels both. I struggled with that sin (among many others!) for many years, though mine was in a heterosexual context, and I wondered if freedom would ever occur. I can say that God is faithful. I asked him why it took so long for it to occur, and the answer was, "because now is the time". Physical healing, inner healing, deliverance, and renewal of mind and heart are still available through the Holy Spirit today (despite what some churches teach). Sometimes I wonder if the concentration of so many in the church on homosexuality and abortion is in one way a smoke screen to cover up the adultery, pornography, alcoholism and (name whatever sin you struggle with) those same people are involved in. Cheryl and Grace both have some great advice for all of us and it can be applied not only to relationships. Ask the Lord, trust in him alone. Blessings on your year at school.

Jay said...

Interior: Thanks for the comment! It doesn't matter if it's straight porn or gay porn: that entity is an absolute monster to deal with. God bless your deliverance from it. I'm still not completely out of the woods yet (I can't tell you how tempted I get sometimes), so continue to pray for me as well.

One of the big things that got me out of that was prayer, actually. When I realized that the men I was seeing were real people--lost souls--I started to pray for them. I think all people, straight or gay, who think pornography is okay need to think about the havoc it plays with the lives of those actually in the industry.

Randy said...

Thanks for sharing where you are at Jay. Blessings on you.

Tin Man said...

Hey Jay. Great blog. Found it through Willful Grace. Sounds like you have a great head on your shoulders. Your family sounds awesome. I know this is an exciting time for you and it is fun for us to read. Thanks for sharing the excitement. And thanks for your courage and your honesty.

Robert said...

Found your blog NOT from Grace, but a post on LaShawn Barber. While I don't think I could endure what you've elected to do nor do I agree with it, the best of luck to you in doing so. You have a good blog here, and I look forward to reading through it.

And because it's obligatory for all students now, Go Gators!

Jeff S. said...

Great post, Jay. Just looking back at some of your earlier posts to get to know you a little better. My blogging world has been mostly Xanga, so it's fun getting to know a blog from another group like yours.

ewe said...

I wish that you would accept you are gay and all that that entails. You seem to live a life filled with guilt and shame and low self esteem that you consistently question. I want you to know that i wish you well and i also have to tell you to grow up. This whole orientation psycho babble is drama and just a way for you to not be who you are. Stop it. Stop it right now. That whole bit about the porno is pathetic. It is called hormones Jay. Don't think for one second that god (if there is a god) is as narrow minded as you make it out to be. Get over yourself already. you are wasting precious time in your one life over such nonsense. Stop being your own worst enemy. Listen, i do not know how to tell you more plainly than this...You do not like yourself. You better change that Jay. It is not the path to go down or forward with.