I originally started writing my full coming out story to share with someone I consider(ed) a dear friend of mine. In that process, I realized how valuable it might be for others. Prior to putting my story on paper, I spent many, many hours in prayer asking for God’s guidance in finding the words to write. I asked for God’s guidance also for what he wants for me in my life. Ultimately, here is what I was called to write.
How do I know that being gay is normal and not a sin? Well, my coming to this conclusion is not completely based on studying the bible, but more based on my experiences. I think this is important to consider since homosexuality is not an abstract concept. It is something very concrete and involves real, current, living humans with a face. It involves people you know and love dearly and many, many others whom you have never met.
I remember years ago when many people thought that the rate of child sexual abuse was on the rise. What many studies would end up saying is that it wasn’t the rate that was increasing, it was just the number of people coming forward and speaking up that was increasing. The same can be said for homosexuality. There are not more people ‘choosing’ to be homosexual, it is just that more and more are being brave and speaking up honestly earlier in life about who they really are and their attraction to someone of the same sex. We also have to consider the impact that technology and media has played in us hearing about both of these topics more than we did just 20 years ago.
I think it is important to consider the definition of homosexuality. According to Merriam-Webster, the first part of the definition, which for me and many others is the way we define homosexuality, says that it is being sexually attracted to someone of the same sex. We simply cannot control who we are attracted to in our lives. It is not possible to train oneself to NOT be attracted to someone. We have no control over those butterflies we get when we see someone for whom we have an attraction. Not only that, but to the best of my knowledge, attraction is not discussed in the bible except in regards to lust. And, just because we are attracted to someone, it does not mean that we lust for them in the way the bible talks about lust.
If you are someone that believes that just having attractions to someone of the same sex is sinful, I have one favor to ask as you read through my experience. I ask it not in an effort to try to change your beliefs, but instead to allow you to read this with a more open heart. I ask that just while you read my posts, you put aside what you were taught to believe the Bible says about homosexuality. I ask that you put aside anything you may have read previously and dismissed as being shallow or self-serving. I ask that you read every word. I ask that you picture your dearest friend and imagine it is their story. If you find yourself wandering back to your current beliefs, stop yourself and put that aside just for the day, then continue reading.
First, some background…
I did not fully accept that I was attracted to other women until I was 26. However, since coming out, I have learned that I apparently made comments or asked questions that would lead me to assume I knew something internally much earlier. I believe my coming out was hindered by two main factors: 1) I have many repressed memories that have only come to light as I’ve read older journals and 2) I had heard my mother and a sibling speak negatively about a relative that was questioning their own sexuality and I feared what might be said about or to me.
I am so grateful that I am a sentimental fool. If not for that fact, I might have thrown out my many journals over the years. Thankfully, I have them to bring much needed clarity which helps piece the puzzle together. They also help explain how I got to be the person I am today.
I got very good over the years of ‘filing away’ certain thoughts and questions I had regarding my sexuality. For example, there were times when I would have questions but nobody was there to help sort them out so I just ‘filed’ them for another day. One journal helped trigger the following that I sent to my therapist in 1997:
“I remember when I was younger that I found a ‘girly’ magazine in my brother’s room. I was fascinated by it and even got a little aroused at that time…I can think back to about high school graduation thinking about women. My best friend and I used to have disagreements all the time over this. Not that I was attracted to her, but that I was the least bit attracted to women at all.”
A possible bigger factor that kept my sexuality hidden from even me was what happened at home. Once in high school, I overheard my mother and a sibling saying ugly and disapproving words about a relative that was ‘experimenting’ while questioning their own sexuality. I suppose this really caught my attention because of my own same-sex attractions I had during this time. If they could say these hurtful things about someone else that we ‘loved,’ what might they say about and to me? Could I end up being completely rejected if I shared my own attractions?
As I mentioned above, I was 26 before I finally accepted and understood myself to have same-sex attractions. I will share more in my coming posts how that came to be.