Over the past few weeks, my journey out has set in place a number of conversations regarding religion and human sexuality. And in many of these [painful] conversations, those engaging with me have slung around the qualifier: ‘the homosexual lifestyle’.
I’ve resisted the persistent urge to say, “Honey, lifestyle is a condom.”
But let’s get on to meaningful discussion. The qualification of homosexuality as a ‘lifestyle’ is an attempt to invalidate this form of healthy sexual expression. It moves to other homosexuals, while keeping heterosexuals in the seat of the normal. I’ll just add that I’ve never heard heterosexuality referred to as a lifestyle.
Whom you are attracted to does not dictate lifestyle. You could identify as homosexual and opt for celibacy. One might be bisexual and lascivious. Some are lesbians and into traditional [same-sex] marriages with clear monogamous boundaries. And what of those straight people who have decided that they’d like to steer clear of relational commitment? Celibacy is a lifestyle. Sexual promiscuity is a lifestyle [No judgement here. Just be safe, people!]. Staying up late every night to watch The Golden Girls is a lifestyle. Being gay is not.
The most difficult thing for me, in terms of reconciling with my sexuality, was that I didn’t see any gay people who were living ‘healthy’ lives. Most of the gay people to which I had been exposed only seemed to be affirmations of my community’s disdain. It’s clear to me now that I was approaching them with a broken lens, but in my mind, gayness was equivalent to the death of a bright future. There was no person in my life like Dr. Julie in Boy Erased (Garrard Conley, 2017). No one to sit across from me and tell me that they knew “plenty of people who’ve accepted this part of themselves, and they’ve managed to make a good life of it.” That is, no one except my high school therapist, whose words I did not have ears to hear.
I needed someone to tell me that God loved me, and created me as I was. In those years, no one told me that—so, I’m telling you: You, honey, are loved and are a well-watered garden. You are a gift. Stay with us.
I’m thankful to have discovered a number of queer Christians to whom I can look. I’m grateful for Matthias Roberts’ Queerology podcast, which snatched me from the cords of death. Listening to his words [although broadcast from 1,000 miles] made me realize that there was someone else like me in the world. Matthias led me to Kevin Garcia, and his A Tiny Revolution. I drove my little white BMW to New York and cried listening to Kevin. I then learned of Broderick Greer, who hosted the Theology Live podcast. In all of this, I discovered Garrard Conley, whom I have already mentioned, and Nick White’s book How to Survive a Summer. It wasn’t just the work that saved me. It was the fact they responded to my emails and messages. It was like a community of gay men pulling me out of the choppy water, “Heave, ho! Heave, ho!”
They were the pillars for me. Not the deacons at a local church, as my mother wanted. They were the men [and gender-fluid] of God.
So, standing here in the sun, still drying off, I speak in defense of my community.
These are my words.