Friday, October 06, 2006

For The Record: I Don't Hate Being Gay

I'm currently pulling a late shift at the desk, but since it's Fall Break weekend no one's here, so I'm extremely bored, hence the blogging! I'm kidding. This is actually a subject that I've been meaning to tackle for a while, but I haven't gotten around to it until now.

I recently went to my friend Brady's blog and found a post of his that concerned this article. I suggest you read it, but if you don't want to I'll just say that it's entitled "I Hate Being Gay," and that it was written by a 19-year-old Christian SSA struggler (no, it's not me!) Surprsingly, it was published in The Advocate.

Obviously, I can really relate to the author, a one Kyle Rice. After all, we're in the same boat. We both started feeling attracted to the same sex around age 12, we both acknowledge that homosexuality is not a chosen condition (it's amazing how hard it is to get that through some people's heads sometimes) and we're both Christians who think that homosexuality is ultimately against God's will. But there a few things that Kyle says that are unsettling to me. They're nothing new, actually. They're attitudes that I have received (and perceived) from several conservatives and members of the ex-gay movement ever since I started keeping up with this subject.

Kyle's article starts out with this paragraph: In late July the Washington State supreme court upheld a law that limits marriage to heterosexual couples. As a gay 19-year-old in Longview, Wash., my delight with that ruling is probably surprising. However, I'm not your average gay person. I'm also a Christian who views living a gay lifestyle as against God's word.

Okay. Disagree with gay marriage though I do, "delight" is probably the last thing I felt when I heard that ruling. How can you possibly delight in something that you know is going to make a lot of people miserable? I agree with the ruling, but it's more of a war kind of thing--something that wasn't pretty, but had to be done. Delight? That's just a poor choice of words.

So was this next line: And because of my religious beliefs, I hate the fact that I am gay.

Alright. This post is about to get long. I've done quite a bit of soul-searching recently and I've come to a conclusion: despite all the pain, struggle, and loneliness that I've endured because of my orientation--I don't hate the fact that I am gay. For anyone who read "Bad Few Days," that might be a bit of a surprise, but it's true.

First, let me define what I think hate means. I'm a word junkie, and I think words--even words that describe feelings--have specific meanings that need to be respected. Hatred is an extreme loathing characterized most by hostility. You obviously can't be hostile towards facts, since they're not physical. At most, hatred towards a fact would be a wish that the fact wasn't true. Therefore, Kyle is wishing that he was not gay.

I don't wish that at all.

Wait, some of you are scratching your heads, and with good reason! Let me clarify myself. I view homosexuality as a part of man's corrupted nature. Just like dishonesty, pride, greed, envy, violence, anger, and all other sins. Do I wish it didn't exist? You bet! Better yet, I know that one day it won't exist anymore, just like all sins, and that is a day that I (and all Christians) look forward to very much. But I'm a realist. Just like I don't think God is going to take away my temptations to lie, I don't think He's going to take away my homosexual attraction. That doesn't mean I won't still pray for that, and it doesn't mean that I don't think that those temptations will eventually be lessened. But if God completely removed a temptation, what would be the point of following His law? Isn't the fact that we struggle for perfection--struggle for God--a sign that we are being faithful to Him? If I had never struggled with this, I know my relationship with Christ would not be where it is today.

There's another element to this, too. The fact that I've struggled with SSA has given me a rather rare perspective on the world, I think. I mean, I view things from outside of the norm. Not that I want to sound too special here, but I'm a little more tolerant than a lot of my more "normal" friends. I think the main reason for that is because I know that you can't judge a person by a label. I could easily be labeled "gay" (and I even label myself that). But there is so much more to me, so many personal experiences, so many thoughts and ideas that go along with it...I mean, just check out the length of this post alone! Everyone probably thinks about themselves to the extent that I do, but I have no idea what those thoughts are, and thus what position am I in to judge? What position am I in to judge if I don't know about the complexities that surround someone's background. True, I didn't need to be gay to understand this, but I think one does need to struggle with something. If you've never been in a position where you're going to be judged, you might not know just how hurtful it is.

So, though I do wish for attraction change, in the hope that one day I will meet a woman that I can share the rest of my life with, I will always be somewhat grateful to my SSA. It's helped make me the person that I am, and that's a person that I like very much. Still, there is a part of me that thinks it's done it's job--it can leave anytime now.

For the rest of the article Kyle simply talks about how he's praying for God to change his desires. He says he needs to "stop being gay so [he] can stop being attracted to guys." Okay, that's a little repetitive. I mean, being attracted to guys is what makes you gay, not vice-versa, but I understand his position. I'm still a little skeptical of the extent that one's desires can change (read Disputed Mutability's blog if you want to read opinions/questions similar to my own--she writes better than I do anyway), but I do believe that change is possible. I don't think it's required exactly, since celibacy is an option that's on my table.

Then Kyle talks a little about his commitment to the conservative right. I won't get started on that. This post is too long already. Let me just say that defeating the "gay agenda" is low on my priority list. If battle needs doing, I'll do it with individuals, not groups.

Okay, now that my critique is over, I'm just going to say that it is still wonderful to see an article of this nature in The Advocate. I disagreed with Kyle's wording, but overall he, like me and every other Christian, is just trying to follow God's will. I pray for him and all others like him, and I thank him for sharing his message with a community that has shown itself to be openly hostile towards that message. Now, who do I have to rub shoulders with to get my stuff in The Advocate?

Sorry about the long post. As I said, I'm bored. I'm going to be one of the only people in my dorm over Fall Break. There's no reason for me to go home, since Mom and Dad are going to be in Virginia at a crafts festival, selling pottery and sleeping in their Winnebago. Oh, I remember the days. Good times, good times. :-)

20 comments:

kurt_t said...

I read the article.

I read these first person accounts from "SSA Strugglers," and I always have the same two-part reaction. The first part is "Wow, that's really sad. Here you have this beautiful gift, your life, and you feel like your gift is broken, and you need to fix your gift so that you have the same nice gift that everybody else got."

There's a part of me that just cringes everytime I see the words "unwanted SSA." I think that a young person who characterizes his sexual orientation as "unwanted" is kind of like a person my age saying "I have unwanted middle age." I mean, middle aged is part of who I am. It's not something to want or not want. It's just part of the wonderful, beautiful gift that is my life."

Then the other half of my reaction, the more calculating and pragmatic half, is that I think that in the long run, the ex-gay phenomenon has greatly advanced the cause of gay liberation, because an ex-gay identity seems to be, more often than not, a stage that a person goes through on the way to accepting and embracing his or her sexual identity.

That is to say, today's "conservative Christian SSA struggler" usually turns out to be tomorrow's "militant gay activist."

Jay said...

It makes me sad, too. I hope I come across as an SSA struggler who doesn't view his life, or even his sexuality, as something broken. Like I said, though it's caused me pain, I'm forever grateful that I've gotten to see what it's like to be gay. It's made me the person that I am.

Brady said...

Hey Jay. For the record, I hope that I made it clear in my post that I don't think you hate being gay. I was trying to be clear to distinguish that you were dealing with the same questions I used to deal with without saying you hated being gay (because I wasn't sure what your stance was). Anyway, if it wasn't clear--my apologies ;-)

Also, this quote:
"So, though I do wish for attraction change, in the hope that one day I will meet a woman that I can share the rest of my life with, I will always be somewhat grateful to my SSA. It's helped make me the person that I am, and that's a person that I like very much. Still, there is a part of me that thinks it's done it's job--it can leave anytime now."
Is a good one. I didn't come to that realization until very recently, and it brought a lot of calm and self-assurance for me when it came. It sounds like it did for you too.

grace said...

I'll try and get that book in the mail to you this week...then you'll have it for your extra time during your break.
love,
pam

Jay said...

Brady: Don't worry, I didn't think that. But a lof of gay men do think that those of us in the more "ex-gay" camp are self-haters, and I was disappointed that Kyle somewhat conformed to that stereotype. And I'm glad you like that quote. Coming to that realization did bring a lot of calmness.

Grace: Thanks! I'll try to remember to get down to my mailbox (it's all the way on the other side of campus--I rarely go there).

Joe S said...

Jay, the "conservative Christian SSA strugglers" are encouraged to be uptight about the gay label. The ex-gay social/support group I go to has split into two camps. On the one side there are the guys who can laugh at themselves and everyone else (in a good way) and they still use the gay label. On the other side are the guys who walk out the room whenever somebody cracks an obvious joke about our predicament. I honestly believe it is the always serious guys (who claim they are heterosexual but constantly talk about their gay porn addictions) who will end up as the militant gay activists. I don't think it is sin to laugh at ourselves.

Irrational Entity said...

I found much to agree with in this post. Despite the difficulties arising from being gay, the experience has shaped my life in a good way. I might have turned out a young-earth creationist like my parents if I were not gay, and the way I relate to others would be quite different today. Overall being gay seems to have been a generally positive factor in my life.

Jay said...

Joe S: I'm definitely in the "guy who can laugh at himself" camp. Remember the quote from Martin Luther? -- "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." So true.

I've heard the "ex-gay struggle" compared to that of a recovering drug/alcohol addict. I think I'm quite a bit more upbeat than that!

Irrational: Hey now, some of my more fundamentalist family members are young-earth creationists. Don't say it like it's the worst thing you could've possibly been had you not been gay. ;-)

Seriously, whether you believe the world is a few billion or a few thousand years old has little effect on how you live your day-to-day life (although I'm definitely in the few billion camp).

And yes. I think being gay has had an overall good effect on my life, or maybe it's just that I refuse to look at anything but the bright side.

em said...

Funny post... moreso, the banter in the comments was funny. A couple of thoughts:

1 - Selling pottery at a craft fair while sleeping in a winnebago sounds like real fun! I'd actually like to try my hand at making pottery one day. I've thought about purchasing a wheel, but I guess I need more time first. Hmmm... ;-)

2 - If you can't laugh at yourself, clearly you are too stupid to see how stupid we all are. (now that's pretty stupid! haha) Laughing at myself is one of my favorite past-times.

3 - Young/old earth is a quandry for a number of reasons. One reason being, God could have created an earth that had inherent age (IE, a new creation that bore the qualities of something that is older... he could have even planted some fossils in it!) Anyway, when you're talking about an entity without limit on His power, a number of other doors open up regarding possibilities.

Thanks for sharing! It's always fun and thought-provoking to read your posts, Jay!

Jay said...

Oh, craft fairs are alright. But Minnie Winnie (that's what we call her) is not your standard Winnebago. She's been gutted so as to carry the craft display and the boxes of pottery. She has no amenities; you just put your sleeping bag on the floor...so you're basically just sleeping in a van, and then living off vender food/fast food for the rest of the festival.

Oh, I miss the days. Family bonding at its finest, plus you just feel like a total gypsy/Bohemian. It's wonderful.

And that's what my parents are doing, and have done for the past 25 years, with their Masters of Fine Arts degrees. But hey, that's why I love 'em.

Irrational Entity said...

Hmm. .. I did not mean worst. The divide was just the first topic I thought of as a major difference between views of the world. Worst would be bluegrass fan.

Jay said...

^ Watch it now, start insulting bluegrass and we're gonna have some trouble ;-)

You at least have to like Alison Kraus and Union Station, right? Just a little bit?

Irrational Entity said...

I will give them a pass. Actually I enjoy some of pretty much any style of music in moderation. However if a correlation is found between day-long exposure to bluegrass festivals and homosexuality, I might be willing to reconsider the degree to which post-natal environmental influences affect sexual orientation.

em said...

bring on the bluegrass!

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bob said...

Jay -

You wrote, But if God completely removed a temptation, what would be the point of following His law?

This may be a bit technical, but technical for a reason. What is His “law?”

From Mark 12: "The most important one," answered Jesus, "is this... Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Too many Christians want to be pulled back into the Levitical Code, the "Law," but a reading of Galatians and Hebrews will show that as Christians we are no longer bound by that "Law."

His law for us is to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The point of following His law is to love as Christ loved, as an example of the profound love God has for His creation made in His image.

This is far more demanding and exacting "Law!" It is profoundly difficult to do. In fact, it is impossible for us to do by our own effort. It is ambiguous. A lot of people don't like ambiguity or the more difficult demand, so they revert to the Levitical Code when it suits them.

You wrote:”If I had never struggled with this, I know my relationship with Christ would not be where it is today.”

Wise thought! I love this verse from James 1:

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

I came to a different conclusion than you after many years of praying for change. Yet, I do respect your forthright honesty and pray God blessing upon you as you struggle through the Journey of being transformed into the image of Christ.

Jay said...

Hey Bob! Great to have you here. Okay, you're an Anglican priest, so I'm absolutely flattered that you chose to reply to my blog. I'm obviously not prepared to debate with you about theological issues (such as whether or not the Law still applies to us). At most I can point out this verse (though I'm sure you're aware of it anyway).

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. -- Matthew 5:17-18 (NIV)

Sounds to me like the law is still valid, but Jesus revealed the true intent of the law, rather than its legalistic interpretations (which is why it no longer matters what foods we eat or whether or not we wear blended fabrics). Still, judging by the verses in Romans and Corinthians, the laws that prohibit homosexual sex are not void.

His law for us is to love God with all our being and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Amen. And since I love God, I intend to follow what I feel is his path for me.

Thanks for the verse from James 1; it's one of my favorites. And your prayers mean a lot too. Thanks.

In Him,
Jay

Jimmy Gatt said...

Hi Jay,

You've got a wonderful blog and I think you're a very talented writer. Rather than being an ex-gay Christian, I chose rather to be an ex-Christian gay man. This was my choice and I have gone on to lead a happy life, and I do not recommend my choice to you. Likewise, sharing the "why" part of losing my faith is not something I do with Christians, and I bring that up because it's likely the foremost question in your mind when you read this.

I do wish to comment on something you wrote in your post. You wrote, "I mean, being attracted to guys is what makes you gay, not vice-versa, but I understand his position." I have to disagree with that statement. First of all, understand that "gay" and "straight" are social constructions that are completely dependant on our culture, so I'm only giving my opinion on what is true as I observe my own culture (and that is of a metro area in the Southern USA). There are many men who are attracted to guys and who are not gay. These men marry women and often times end up in sexless marriages. They then choose to find sexual fulfillment through clandestine sex in gyms, pornography shops, and public areas. Sure, they may have secret "gay sex", but if they're not openly making a life with another man then their culture is going to perceive them as straight. If they happen to get caught, then they can play the "recovery card" and still be perceived as straight. Strangely enough, this kind of lifestyle is much more appropriate to the conservative Christian crowd because the "evil" gay sex is clandestine, and perception is reality for most people.

Being gay is much more than feeling turned on by men or even having sex with men. You can't be a gay man if other people don't know that you're gay.

I wish you health and happiness.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jay,

Great blog! I came across your blog when I was perusing one of my favorite sites called Exgaywatch.com. It is a website dedicated to keeping people aware of the tactics that extremist Christians are using to marginalize GLBT people, etc. All I can say regarding this journey is that the Bible can be used to bless and bring us much closer to God and help us understand our Savior or it can be used to abuse and to judge. Unfortunately the "clobber passages" (i.e. like the one in Romans) has been used in abusive ways against gay folks for far too long. This is what is called spiritual abuse and I found it to be insidious in nature. The greatest thing we can know is that we don't have to ask the ministers for their interpretations we can go to God Himself (James 1:5) and He will answer and affirm to us the truth after we have truly studied and even observed others (learning to discern spirits) in their lives and what the fruit of their lives has brought about. There are thousands of gay and lesbian Christians out there who are in committed relationships and the fruits of the spirit are seen in their lives and I have seen Christ in their lives Jay. How can one argue with that? I have been involved with an Evangelical organization entitled Evangelicals Concerned and have found a refuge of Christian love and Christian commitment with them. I have experienced the Spirit of the Lord in their meetings and felt the Savior's genuine love and influence there. Part of a strong relationship with the Lord is to understand yourself and to understand the blessing that He has created within you in all aspects of your life.


Take a look at this website: www.ecinc.org There is a section on this website about the "clobber passages" in the Bible that too many ministers use against gay people and the fact that much of this information has been sorely misinterpreted especially when you consider the reality that Paul's time and our own are very different. We need to read the scriptures within their historical context as well and not read anachronisms into them because of what we have been taught in Sunday School or other Church meetings.

I like this quote a lot. I called it Trust God and Trust Your Experience of God in Your Life:

"...we must be prepared to 'embrace ourselves as exiles.' We must be prepared to accept our exiled state both within society and in the church. We must grieve gradually and let go of the desire 'to belong' to all the institutions of this world. We must deepen our spiritual roots and our realization that, in our direct proportion to our exiled status in this world, we belong in a deeper and more cosmic level to a community bound together by God's love and God's mercy."

"We must 'learn to drink from our own wells.' We must learn to place our trust in our own direct experience of life and what those experiences reveal to us. We must trust that God speaks immediately and directly through our own experiences and that those experiences are the only 'unpolluted waters' from which we can drink. In the process of drinking from the well of our own experiences, we must try to relearn step by step to trust God and to trust what God is saying to us directly. This is the ancient Christian doctrine of 'discernment of spirits.'" John J. McNeil

Anonymous said...

Jay,

I am sorry but I did not tell you my name. My name is Benjamin and I live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. If you should wish to e-mail me directly you can at Jacksonholenativ@aol.com

Thank you and God bless you!!

Benjamin