This is a short article I wrote for my school’s newspaper. There’s been a lot of controversy on campus lately about homosexuality in the church. Enjoy.
Heteronormativity: a worldview that promotes heterosexuality as the normal or preferred sexual orientation. (Paraphrased from Oxford Dictionary)
The other day a friend of mine sent me a message asking me how I was doing. We hadn’t talked since our high school graduation and we had a lot to catch up on. After starting a lengthy dialogue she asked the inevitable question: “So, are you dating anyone?” At the time I was in a relationship with a very nice guy. I decided to have some fun, and I replied with a generic description of his best attributes. Of course, my friend replied with “wow, she sounds really nice!”
“Yeah, he’s great.”
I think my friend was at a loss of emoticons. After a couple hours they finally sent a reply that was short but sent a strong message.
“I’m sorry you gave up the fight.”
I’m not a stranger to this response when people find out I am gay, yet it still surprises me. That doesn’t make sense at all. Choosing to be open about who I am, who I love, and what God I serve is the fight. I am not giving up, I am pressing on.
It was the winter of my junior year when the head dean of my high school told me that I was gay. It was news to me, and when he told my parents, it was news to them as well. Before this point, I had never thought of myself as gay. To some of my close friends, this conclusion was obvious, but to me, being gay wasn’t a possibility. Men like women, and women like men.
I was completely open to overcoming this “temptation” and I was eager to see what God had in store for me. Together, my dean and I came up with a program for me to follow until I was rid of the thoughts that made me gay.
The program included me reading the Bible and journaling for an hour each morning. During each day, I was to find time to report to my dean to discuss with him what I had learned and how I was improving. The first day, after having a talk with my dean, I was left feeling more alone than ever before. The interaction was cool and aloof, and I began to realize that my dean had very little interest in my personal success. I continued reading and journaling on my own, desperately hoping to see a change. It took me over a year to understand God’s response.
It wasn’t magical. There were no sparkles and rainbows (ironically). It wasn’t as if I turned around one second and said, “Have you seen girls before? What have I been missing?!” Instead, I realized that what I was doing was useless. I was made with a purpose – one that did not include God rewiring something He had already created.
I live in a society that constantly tells me I am wrong. My phone does not recognize the word gay. Many people can’t even verbally say the word without getting uncomfortable. But to say “That’s so gay” doesn’t even take a second thought.
I’m afraid to do research on gay rights in English class because of what others might think.
I won’t cross my legs in church because people might say I’m too feminine.
I keep my Broadway show tunes and Lady Gaga anthems in a separate playlist in case someone gets the wrong idea.
In school, I was instructed not to slant my hips because that looked gay.
Teachers told me to go through speech therapy because my voice sounded gay.
These fears will continue to follow me even though I am out of the closet. I am no stranger to rejection and I am constantly dealing with interactions like the one I mentioned at the beginning of my article. For many this would be a life of pain – and indeed my life has had its rough patches. However, these moments make the bright patches shine even more. Every day I see instances of love in the people around me, and I hold on to these as examples of a society that is learning to accept and love people for who they are.
My wish in writing this piece is not to make an argument. I am not an overly opinionated person, and I am not here to tell people they are wrong. My goal is to act out of love. I am giving people a glimpse into my life so that we can better understand each other. We cannot begin to resolve conflict or come to agreements until we reach this point.
I do not expect everyone to welcome me with open arms. However, if you try to spread hate, I am the least of your worries. There is a Higher power that cares for me just as much as He cares for you. As children of God, we are given a huge opportunity. We can chose to be vessels of love and light, or we can chose to be channels of pain that alienate so many people from their spiritual families.