Monday, March 18, 2013

That One Thing Part Two

I have a secret. 

I haven't told my mom that I use prayer beads.

I am terrified she'll find out someday and the disappointed sighs will begin.  There's nothing wrong with what I'm doing, none at all, and it still weighs on me in my relationship with her. I've even opened an online store selling the beads I make and would love to get her input on my designs, but I'm afraid she'll be just broken-hearted.  So I don't talk about it with her, and I hide my beads when she comes over.

But this isn't about me and my beads, this is about my brother.

"Michael" has always had a very tender heart towards God. He knows his Bible well and tries to live it.  He was a youth group leader for some time and graduated from Fundy University as I did.  He's six feet tall, muscular, handsome, and has a number of high-level belts in several different martial arts. He's intelligent too - he'll ace any trivia quiz you bring on and is fluent in JavaScript as well as Klingon.

And if you haven't guessed by now, he's also gay.

What was it like being gay in Fundyland? I can't even imagine what having such a deep secret would do to you.  Especially in a culture that constantly spews hatred towards people like you.  When my husband and I talked to a few close friends in Halfway Fundy Church about him as we struggled to come to terms with our changing beliefs, we were told things like, "He isn't letting God have full control of his life.  He isn't allowing God to change him."  My husband and I would shake our heads in frustration and look at each other with the same thought - that isn't Michael.  He would never fight God like that. That's not the answer. 

He finally came out of the closet a few years ago, and the reactions he's gotten have largely been terrible.  Fortunately, my parents didn't turn their backs on him but he's endured all kinds of ridiculous accusations from "friends" since then.  He's been told being gay means he's also a pedophile.  He's been told it was his mom's fault.  Or his dad's fault.  He's been told he was recruited into it as a young child.  He's been told he's going to get HIV and die.  And mostly, he's been told that he chose to be gay.  Here's part of what he wrote when I asked him to contribute to this conversation:
Allow me to clarify this a little bit. The belief I am listing here is not simply, “He chose to be in a relationship with him”, but “He chose to be attracted to other men.” Big difference. I would agree to the first statement, but not the second. This belief feeds the direct anger fundamentalists have at gay people. Why be gracious and caring to someone who is purposefully choosing to be a godless sexual deviant? I believe that this is one of the most damaging beliefs about homosexuality in the fundamentalist's misinformation.

I already mentioned that if you believe someone willfully chooses to be gay, you feel no need to show them mercy. This also seems to be near the root of why when gay person comes out, the fundies near them become upset and start saying things that include the words, “disappointed” and “betrayal”. They throw stone after stone, working themselves into a frenzy over the audacity for this person to chose to be gay. Hopefully, these stones that are worked up in the frenzy are only verbal. I myself have been threatened by folks that I knew for years in the fundamental circle when I came out.

My experience is that I tried desperately to be “normal” for nearly half my life. If there was ever an upbringing that you didn't want to be gay in, I had it. I'm not saying mine was the worst ever, because I know that's not true. It was not a good situation by any means, but it was not the worst situation. I know guys that lost their family when they came out. They were thrown from the house, told never to return and if they were seen again, they'd better start running. I didn't have that happen, thank God.

However, growing up I did have to deal with the fact that I knew I was attracted to men and not to women. I didn't ask for this, but with the preaching and the pressure, I assumed I somehow did. I tried to give everything in my life to God, pray to be cured from my sickness, drink deeply from the scripture and set my mind on those things. If only I could be show enough devotion to God, I would be cured. A sick sense of bargaining with God was going on. I was trying to purchase healing through dedication that began to feel more and more hollow as I felt more and more unable to please my Heavenly Father. 'I must repulse Him', I thought. 'God can't love me like this.'

I wondered what people would do or think if I told them about my struggle. I thought of the overnight activities with the church and how they segregated the men and the women. What would they do with me? Would they segregate me off to my own area? People at my age were now pairing off and getting married. That's not an option for me, I won't deceive some poor girl. My future began to look awful lonely. I pulled away from people, afraid of the the impending stigmatization and ostracism should I come out. My depression got worse and friends asked me what was wrong but I didn't have the courage to tell them the truth.

Do you see why I think this belief is one of the most dangerous ones held by Fundamental Christianity about homosexuality? This belief not only justifies people's hate for gays, but it also sinks into the minds of the young gay or lesbian mind that is raised in the midst of Fundamentalism. You are told that you have a choice, and when you can't control that “choice”, you condemn yourself for failing and heap the words you've heard all your life upon yourself.

Unnatural. Disgusting. Anathema. Faggot. Abomination.

At the close of this, I ask one thing. Please be kind to the gays you know. Odds are you cannot hate them as much as they hated themselves.

Now that he has accepted his homosexuality, he's a different person.   Or, more appropriately, he's his old self again.  The suicidality and anger and depression have evaporated.   His kindness and love are growing again.

Those are fruit of the Spirit. 

I don't completely understand it. But I understand enough to know that he isn't wrong.


  1. Can I say, that I cried as I read this. Knowing your brother and how amazing he is, I am so thrilled for the healing that God has brought him. Thank you so much for sharing your story and impacting others with the incredible freedom there really is in Christ. Freedom to learn and grow and question and heal and change the world.

  2. Not knowing your brother, I wept for him. And for thousands, or probably millions. My good friend Bill, who came out in his early 50's, finally, will now tell you, 'God don't make no junk.' No kidding. God's blessings on your brother, God loves him just as he loves the rest of humanity, with the love that is so great we can barely contemplate it.