So here’s a letter I got in last week:
I have a question, John. I am an avid reader of your blog. I am not sure if I’ve ever commented before, though. I am just loving your posts on being gay and being a follower of Christ. I love Jesus. I always have, ever since I have known of Him. My first remembered introduction to God was around age two, and it’s been true love ever since. In fact, I even pursued higher education in Divinity because of that love.
I have always thought of myself as a heterosexual woman. That was easy to think, because I like men, and am very attracted to some men. Always have been. Still am. And yet I am in the strange position of having my sexual orientation undergo a big change (or, perhaps, a new discovery; I’m honestly not sure which).
But this is really really really a pain for me, when I deal with my Christian family and community. Which I don’t, because at this point I am not ready for the emotional trauma of having to deal with the flipping out that will occur if I share with them the new me. They, of course, are convinced that homosexuality is a choice (always, even for those who feel like they were born with a same-sex orientation) — and then I discover that I am not a fixed heterosexual, like I always thought I was, but bisexual (?!); now, in my late thirties, I find myself deeply deeply in love with a woman.
So, for me, it is a choice … in the sense that I could be happy, sexually, with a man. Only the person I fell in love with is a woman. And I never knew that I even could fall in love with a woman!!! I didn’t know that these feelings could happen with the same gender. I mean, I am someone who has grown up in Christian fundamentalism, so homosexuals were evil sinners. That’s what I heard straight from the pulpit, in my Sunday school classes and all of that kind of thing. No one in their right mind would have come out of the closet in my super conservative community when I was growing up! So I never knew an openly gay person; therefore there never was anything to challenge the things I heard from church. I never even considered that my camp might be wrong about that, until I was eighteen, and met my first openly gay person (who was not a monster, like I thought gay people must be, but was actually a very nice person — and that really rocked my little world!). But even then, I still thought homosexuality was a sin, a choice, or something that was broken about a person — like, maybe they were abused as a child, and so they were broken and therefore homosexually oriented.
It was only when I hit my thirties that I began questioning what my camp said about gay people. Though I never ever thought I would ever be one of “those gay people.” Having this happen to me this past year has been mind-blowing. I fell in love with an amazing person. And suddenly … I am getting it. I am really starting to get it. I have suddenly been kicked out of the world of accepted sexuality, and dumped into the world where I am not allowed to be in love — where I am the monster my old pastor preached about! But it’s still me. I’m me, just the same as I always was. ME. Only, if my family knew, oh my word, they would flip out. They would not be able to see me as me. I would become one of “them.” Because homosexuals are not considered normal people. They are “The Others,” these people who are not really full human beings like us.
Yet experiencing this deep and delightful love for my wonderful beautiful partner? It is no different than falling in love with a man. It is wonderful, exciting, delightful! She is such an incredible person, such a perfect life-fit. If she was a male, my family would be so excited for me!!! But she’s not. And, to them, it’s not possible that I could be feeling and experiencing this love that I am. Here I always looked at the “homosexual” as if they were just all about lust. You know, it’s all about sex, right? At least, that’s what I thought. Just sexual lusts. I never knew that a homosexual person was just like a heterosexual person, in that they fall in love; they feel; they care; they have all the same exact feelings a heterosexual has — and, like with a heterosexual relationship, sexual attraction is a part of it, of course, but it’s just a part of the whole package. (It’s funny, really. No one would ever tell a happy heterosexual couple that they have a problem because they were well matched with their personalities and had sexual feelings for each other. No, that sexual attraction would be assumed, and celebrated as a good thing for them.)
So, here I am, not where I ever thought or imagined I would be, in love with a wonderful woman who makes my eyes sparkle and brings out the best in me. She is a Christian as well, raised in fundamentalism just like me, shocked and amazed at what has happened, just like me, and very much in love, just like me (and, haha, reads your blog, just like me). She is the life partner I always dreamed of.
And so, all that to say that it’s not as easy as “just” telling my parents that I am gay. Because I’m not gay. I am just me. My sexuality does not fit neatly into a box. (I wonder if anyone’s really does?) I am me, a person. And I am in love with another person — who happens to be a woman. And we are happy together. Wonderfully happy! The only part about this that is deeply unhappy is the part where we know that if our community, our families, and most of our friends knew of our love they’d be horrified, and would view us as fallen, broken, deceived, and headed straight for hell. The part where you know that if they knew, they would probably wish you had died in a tragic accident, rather than say you are in love and pursuing a relationship with a person of the same sex. The part where you know they will mourn because, to them, it will mean they have lost you, totally lost you forever.
It is so strange, when you want to just do cartwheels and celebrate finding such a beautiful love — you want to grab all your other loved ones and tell them the exciting news — and, well, you just can’t. Sometimes I feel so happy that I find myself smiling, and my first instinct is to share that happiness. And then I remember, “Oh. I can’t tell anyone.” It’s a heavy feeling, in the middle of something so precious and happy.
There is so much more I could say. But this is good for now. Would love to hear your thoughts. Because, in my case, my orientation is flexible, which means it is sort of a choice. But who I fell in love with? There was no choice there. None at all.
My thoughts? My thoughts are that this letter renders any addition to it superfluous. It’s fantastic that you’ve found this new love; it’s actually a bit physically nauseating that for that love you would be reviled by people who already love you, and whose entire faith system is supposed to be rooted in the unconditional love of God.
It feels like you’re from the future. It feels like all of us who understand that you really can stop at the idea that God is love are from the future, and that all these crazy-ass “Christians” who want to pile onto that love rules and restrictions and judgments and condemnations are from a past that, frankly, can’t actually become the past any too soon for me.
You found love. I suppose that in the end all I can do is be grateful that, for the life of me, I can’t understand how anyone could find that anything less than wonderful.
In a nutshell, my thoughts on your letter are this: It’s sad to say, but fuck ‘em. It’s your life. It’s your love. If others have so little love in their lives that ultimately they want you to have less love in your life, then forget them. And may God help them.
(By way of encouragement, maybe: I Came Out to My Evangelical Family. And Guess What?)