One of the things that I hope to accomplish in writing about my experience as both a gay man and as an ex-Christian is to give hope and courage to those who are struggling with their sexuality or over their doubts about their faith. Regarding faith, there’s definitely a place for doubt and for questioning, but there comes a point where you have to ask yourself if there’s genuine belief within you or if your doubts are your intellect trying desperately to tell you something about yourself.
Regarding sexuality, there is no such thing as questioning. There may be confusion within a person over the kinds of sexual desire he or she is experiencing, whether those feelings be heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual; or an even more frightening reality of an individual coming to the realize that he or she is transsexual—that is, that he or she was born one sex but knows at his or her core, in the same way that you and I know that we are the sex we are, that he or she is the opposite. From conversations with transsexual friends, I know now how incredibly difficult and lonely a road this can be—but it shouldn’t be.
Yet still, there should be no questioning, or at least there shouldn’t be a culture that forces an individual to question what they know in their heart to be true.
This is especially true of conservative, anti-gay blogger Jonathan Merrit, who was came out recently as gay but has unfortunately taken the sad route of self-loathing Christian gays who make their mea culpas and then go into “therapy” (i.e., “reparative”, ex-gay therapy). They come out as a way of encouraging other closeted gays to do the same—to throw themselves on the “unconditional love” of their hateful communities and to seek “help” from monstrous so-called therapists who promise to be able to “fix” them (i.e., make them “normal”, i.e., heterosexual).
What Jonathan Merrit needs is help to accept himself as a beautiful human being who happened to be born homosexual. Although I never sought therapy (thankfully), having been there myself as a once-Christian gay man I know how terrifying and lonely it is to come out of the closet, especially when your entire community is made up almost exclusively of conservative Christians who believe that homosexuality is a sin and an abomination.
There is no brokenness about homosexuality. If there was, fundamentalists wouldn’t be fighting so hard against it and lying so much about it. If there was, all homosexuals would be leading disastrous lives and dying at age 42 (or whatever age they’ve worked out we die at). If there was, the president of Exodus International wouldn’t say that he’s never met a gay person who’s successfully changed their orientation, and Robert Spitzer wouldn’t have renounced his research finding that ex-gay therapy worked.
Regardless of whether you belief in God (or god(s)) or not, it’s such a waste of an already short existence on this wonderful planet to strait-jacket yourself into a life of loneliness and misery in order to satisfy the demands of a community that refuses to acknowledge any perspectives other than their bigoted, narrow, judgmental and puritanical one.
So my call to action for today is for anyone who reads this and agrees with the sentiment to write to Jonathan Merrit and plead with him to not go down the road of self-loathing and unhappiness and to embrace and love himself and the way that he was born. Plead with him to accept the potential happiness that’s there if he’ll just venture outside and look for it. I did, and my only regret is not having met my wonderful boyfriend Jay sooner.
I saw the article this morning on The Advocate about your coming out as gay, and have to say that while I admire the courage it took to admit that publicly, even under pressure to do so, I’ve been where you are. I was born into a Christian family and was raised in the fundamentalist tradition, but came out as gay in 2008 at age 26 after over a decade of struggling with feelings that conflicted with the teaching of my faith. I did so after an extensive amount of research into the clinical and scientific origins of homosexuality, as well as researching the truth about what history and the Bible truly says about it. What I found is that there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that it condemns committed relationships between same-sex couples, and that there is no evidence in the scientific community to indicate homosexuality is anything but natural. What’s unnatural and harmful is attempting to alter your sexual orientation when there’s nothing wrong with the one you have.
It’s impossible to express to you the regrets I have over all of the wasted years that came with fighting with my innate nature and with not coming out sooner. But there was also an indescribable relief at finally embracing who I am. I had to ask myself whether it was more natural to try to fight what had come without bidding (I had no exposure to the “gay lifestyle” growing up) or to accept the evidence within myself. I have no regrets about that decision today. It took some time and looking, but I’m with the man I plan on spending my life with, and here’s nothing different about our love from that of my parents or any of my heterosexual friends who are married.
What I want to say by all of that is don’t throw away the chance to find that for yourself by throwing in your lot with the ex-gay community. Your “indiscretion” showed where your heart truly lies, and what it truly desires, and that’s not wrong. I know from experience that it may seem like giving up to “give in” to what the Church calls temptation, but it’s not giving up to truly embrace who you are. Listen to your heart.
David Philip Norris