As a gay Christian, I was standing quietly behind the closet door, afraid to turn the knob. I’ve been wanting to come out and stand in my truth, but worried about what others would say or think of me? How would they react if they knew that I was attracted to women? Would I still be able to teach the children at church?
Listening to other church members tell gay jokes kept me silent. Their laughter hurt me to my very core. I felt like darts were being thrown towards me but I didn’t know how to make them stop. For more than 30 years, I listened to sermons about homosexuality being an abomination, that those who practiced it would go to hell. Though I felt like if my friends really knew me, they wouldn’t think I was a bad person.
And then one day, a Christian counselor confirmed that this (my attraction to other women) would be something I would have to deal with for the rest of my life. I didn’t understand why I just couldn’t wash it away or somehow cover it up. If it were an illness or disease, I could take some medicine and be cured. It was never explained as being part of my identity, of who I was in Christ, or something to be proud of.
This Is Not What They Meant When They Said -To Be Like Christ
When the movie “The Passion of Christ” was in the theater, my takeaway from it was seeing how much the body could be struck and still live. I knew this was a movie, but it also portrayed Christ and the torture he endured for all of us. After watching that, I figured I could beat myself up; and the pain would be a type of relief.
So I drove out to a secluded spot – took the end of the cell phone cord and whipped it against my stomach and my legs, til they were bruised or cut. The pain was terrible but it still wasn’t enough to push the thoughts and images out of my head. I wanted them to stop, yet I wasn’t ready to die to make them go away permanently.
The more I prayed, the more frequent the images would appear in my mind. And voices telling me that I deserved to be punished for those thoughts. Voices that not only old me to hurt myself, but told me what to use and how to do it. Voices that said no one would suspect that I would be hurting myself. Not only was I being tortured by thoughts and images, but also this voice of self-destruction.
I continued to pray to make them all go away. The same-sex attraction did not, but the voices finally did. I was able to stop hurting myself physically, but emotionally, I was a wreck. I was afraid to share my journey for fear of being thrown into a psych ward. (sorry to anyone who has been in one.)
A Little Background For Understanding
Throughout my life, there have been a few episodes which could have ended it. But God spared me. People would say, “He’s got bigger and better things in store for you, Sue.”
I was raised in a Methodist Church, attended Sunday School and was confirmed at the age of 12. It wasn’t until I started dating my husband when I realized the importance of having a relationship with God. We raised our children in a non-denominational Christian church where they participated in musicals, Bible quizzing, and youth retreats. My husband and I also enjoyed taught Bible studies and enjoyed Christian fellowship.
Yet, even in my marriages, the desire to be with someone of the same-sex was a struggle. During those years, I had never heard of the term – gay Christian. No matter what was going on in my mind, I never denied my love for Christ. As I began to explore the possibilities (between marriages), a friend suggested that it, gay Christian, was an oxymoron. They were two words that would never fit together.
Yet, that’s how I would describe myself and couldn’t deny my own truth inside of me.
Then A Student Dies By Suicide
Then I heard about one of my former students in children’s ministry had come home for the summer from college. With excitement, she told her family about her recent school trip to Vegas for a science conference. She joked how she and a girlfriend went to a chapel to get married. It was just fun and games to her and they all laughed about it. But some in her extended family said it was wrong. They began telling her that God was going to send her to hell, for loving a girl. The student couldn’t take it anymore, left the house, and died by suicide. She was only twenty years old.
It broke my heart. Why is it always about being gay? Why can’t it be about the person, and the love between friends? God said that they greatest commandment was to love God with all our heart, mind and soul; and love our neighbor as ourselves.
This news pushed me out of my own closet – knowing it was time for me to speak up – to stand in the gap for those who no longer could.
God Holds the Doors Open, For All His Children to Walk Through
I believe God allows us to go through trials and struggles so we can help others on their own journey. If that’s the case, then I understand why being gay is how God created me. It’s time to let others know that God loves them unconditionally, and that He always has an open door policy.
I am slowly letting go of what others think of me – if they know me at all, they know I’m not going to hurt anyone, even if I do bear the name gay Christian.
If you know someone who struggles with same sex attraction or identifies with LGBTQ, let them know they are loved. No one should journey through life alone – we need to work together to make sure others don’t feel left-out, alone, downcast or depressed.
Let’s allow everyone to stand in their truth, and keep the closet doors open.
Read more of my story in this anthology: The Call to Soar, published Oct 2016. Plus, there are nine other chapters to help you inspire you to be more each year.
What identity did God bless you with – that you can share with others? Share in the comments below.