Archive for October, 2014
Monday, October 20th, 2014
“Being willing to change allows you to move from a point of view to a viewing point – a higher, a more expansive place, from which you can see both sides.”
As I read all of the posts about gay marriage, Christianity, homosexuality, ExGay stories, and the deep struggles of so many gay men and women to reconcile their lives with their homosexuality I find such a diverse selection of beliefs and convictions. Frankly, I’d love to hear this sometime:
“I’m an evangelical Christian, I believe in the Bible and its’ messages for our lives. I’m truly listening to the life stories of my LBGT friends. I’m trying to understand what it may be like to be a person of faith and gay.”
“For the sake of my LBGT friends, I’m truly praying, seeking, and considering whether or not I’ve been wrong in my understanding of the Bible and its teaching on homosexual relationships. Until I completely understand what that is, I’ll love them, support them, and keep searching with an open heart.”
One of the first things I realized about four years ago is that there are extremely diverse teachings on homosexuality and the Bible. Men and women of scholarly research and knowledge have come to differing conclusions. Straight scholars, LBGT scholars, pastors, teachers and others disagree on the true teaching on this matter and what the Bible says and doesn’t say about same sex relationships.
This realization caused me to begin to rethink all of this for myself. I had taught against gay relationships for over twenty years with great conviction. But admittedly, I had only read or studied this from one perspective and believed I had no need to look any further. I held fast to believing the matter had been researched enough and that scholars much more learned than I am believed it to be a settled matter and there was no need for further discussion on it. I took on their convictions and held tightly to them.
When I found the diversity of belief to be coming from equally knowledgeable and experienced men and women I had to humble myself and begin to ask the harder questions. Had I been wrong? Was my dogmatism stemming from my own convictions and research, or was I just repeating what I had heard. Was my teaching a mere repetition of rhetoric that came from the culture of faith I had associated with?
I find there are far too many others just like myself. Those who believe they need to stand firm against homosexual relationships and gay marriage just because they had been taught that is the way they should believe.
I’m challenging those who really have never been open to reading or studying this matter from a different viewpoint. I’m asking if you might be willing to open up your hearts and minds to see differing views and to ponder – “Have we been wrong?”
I won’t deny, I now believe I was wrong. I now hold to a belief that gay men and women should be allowed to embrace and enjoy the intimacy of a committed relationship, and marriage if they so choose to make it a legal entity. The changes came as I was challenged to research it for myself and to open my own mind and heart to asking the harder questions.
Sure, I’m now in a committed gay relationship as a result of my convictions changing. But this is not why I’ve changed my perspectives four years ago when I did. Things changed when I reluctantly attended a six hour workshop on the Bible and homosexuality. I did have somewhat of an open mind when I went, but I was also skeptical to listen to the different views that were going to be presented. As a result of the information presented I began to read through the Bible on this issue for myself.
When my heart began to believe differently, I wasn’t looking for a gay relationship for myself. I began with an openness to validate the pain and suffering that so many of my gay friends had gone through. I listened to their hearts for the first time without judgment that their homosexual inclinations would lead them into sin if they acted upon it. As I listened, the new information I was digesting was validated. Their stories, and life experience resonated in what I was willing to consider. I could now see that the passages I had long believed to condemn homosexual relationships were not saying what I believed they had said at all! I was shocked and also somewhat frustrated about what I had been taught because I could now see that I had been wrong and believe that others were too.
I understand that there are those who have convictions different than mine. I’m not claiming that I have the definitive answers. If I did, I’d be as wrong as I was before. I have my own convictions and truly want there to be freedom for others to believe differently. I would just like to see more people grasp that this matter isn’t as much of a sure things as once thought.
I believe that the faith community is now in a deep quandary and changing because some of the brave few are actually asking themselves the question, “Have I been wrong?” Can we look at this with an unbiased eye to see what is really said in our Bible and how to apply the wisdom and teaching of Jesus to this matter today in our contemporary culture? Can you honestly come to a place of willingness to affirm a gay relationship within the faith of Christ if you find you’ve been wrong?
Saturday, October 11th, 2014
It’s National Coming Out Day.
Coming out for me was unique. Since I was 25 years old all the significant people in my life have known about my sexual orientation. For over two decades they knew me to be ExGay. This took the pressure out of being gay because most people didn’t feel threatened by my sexuality. In their minds, I wasn’t gay; I was a man who had same sex attractions that was married to a woman. I guess that meant I wasn’t gay. I didn’t consider myself as gay either. The denial and suppression in my life was painful and unhealthy.
So, coming out again a few years ago was almost more challenging than it was when I came out in my twenties. I wasn’t saying anything that wasn’t known, I was now admitting that being ExGay was inauthentic and in many ways it was dishonest.
I admitted that I was gay for the second time without planning to do so. When I was on a discussion panel at a Gay Christian Network conference I just blurted out, “Well, I am gay!”. My announcement came in a very public way, so what else is new, right? This panel discussion went viral on the Internet for other reasons than me admitting I was gay, but nonetheless many, many people viewed it.
People really struggled with this not so new information. Some were very kind, others were silent, and there were a few that were disappointed, angry, and detached from me. But I had to make the decision to be honest even in the midst of other’s reactions.
So, on this National Coming Out Day, I’ve been “out” again for a couple of years. Today, being gay is virtually a non issue for me in my life. I fortunately live in a community and social circles where my being gay and being in a relationship with Larry McQueen is something that is really not anything that is a problem. Everywhere I go in this small rural Northeast Texas community, I am known for being gay and yet I don’t sense the least bit of discomfort or hesitation anywhere. It is what it is and no one really cares one way or the other.
I am thankful for coming out and finally being honest first with myself, and with all others. I have less anxiety, lower stress levels and feel more relaxed than I ever have. The tension in my physical body has decreased dramatically. Being out of the ExGay world has also decreased the drama that I lived in for so many years. Some of which I brought on as one of the ways I distracted myself from the ongoing confusion and pain.
Being with Larry is the most natural and comfortable relationship I have ever had. I am shocked when I realize how much energy I put into self-protection in intimate relationships and the intense denial I lived in before I came out again. I was completely worn out and almost emotionally bankrupt before I came out. I now feel rested and at ease, finally. It’s been a long haul.
I am myself in every way. I’m discovering things about myself that I had forgotten were part of being me. Some things go all the way back to when I was a child but I had suppressed from being ridiculed and bullied by my own mother. Being gay is not who I am, but it is certainly a big part of my life experience and tied heavily to my soul. I’ve discovered that stuffing being gay was followed by stuffing so many other wonderful and amazing things about me.
I’ve taught that there is freedom in Christ. I really never knew what that meant until today. I am now freer than I’ve ever been!
Wednesday, October 8th, 2014
Healthier gay people coming to a state near you!
It is my belief that through acceptance, affirmation and grace, LBGT people can discover a healthier life emotionally, mentally,and spiritually. I’ve seen it happen for many, many people. I’ve also experienced this myself. After accepting my own sexuality and finding a wonderful affirming community, as well as living in a traditional committed relationship, my life overall is better than it’s ever been.
I’ve wrestled with some continuation of voices speaking of sexual orientation change efforts. While I never want to disrespect a personal testimony, I do want to hear more honesty from those are working to promote the belief that men and women can change their sexual orientation, that their efforts are far less successful than people are hearing.
An acquaintance, Charlene Hios, wrote this on her FaceBook page.
“Civil rights for same gender couples is based on the belief that homosexuality is innate. Those of us who have left homosexuality know this is not true, so what does this do to equal rights of same gender couples? It makes it null and void, which is why the Human Rights folks do not recognize our changes saying we never were gay. Nope this is not hate speech! This is me thinking out loud! Feel free to share or comment or block me. I know I am not the only person who thinks these thoughts. Perhaps this can somehow be translated to SCOTUS?”
Charlene is very public in her testimony of having experienced changes in her sexuality from lesbianism. We have had several online conversations about her life and experiences. Charlene has always been very respectful in our conversations. She is a gracious woman. However, she posts often that sexual orientation change is available for anyone. I’ve spoken to her about how I believe women’s experiences are often different than men’s regarding their sexual attractions. I find there is far more fluidity among females than for males. I disagree with her conclusions.
I decided to post to her comment the following:
“While it may be true that your sexuality, fluid as it may be, has been different through the years and that your attractions have changed from what they were to something different today. This does not mean that there aren’t others who do not have a fluid sexuality and that it is innate for them.
I’ve been attracted to the same gender my entire life. I was married to the opposite gender twice, the second was for 24 years. I spent over 25 years attempting to find changes through every means possible to mankind. There has never been any changes, or even a slight hint of diminishing of my same gender attractions.
I still can say, I’ve NEVER heard of any male who has had a transformation from gay to straight. Some have said their same sex attractions have diminished. Even the most well known sexual orientation change counselors speak of diminished same sex attractions, but do not claim to have seen a total change from gay to straight in any of their clients.
The vast majority of men who are gay speak of their experiences being innate, immutable, and experienced from their earliest memories.
Needless to say, the amazing transformations that have occurred when people come to accept their homosexuality as an inherent aspect of their design are myriad. Positive changes such as: return of mental health, anxiety going away, spiritual depth and growth that is significant, addictions going away, with an emphasis on sexual addiction being gone. The positive testimonies are amazing! Not so true for those who’ve attempted sexual orientation change therapy. The vast majority speak of pain, suicidal ideation, shame, and emotional and spiritual demise.
The final acceptance of gay marriage in my opinion will allow men and women to find peace and contentment with a committed marriage relationship that will transform the gay community. We will see increased health and well being for gay people. The formerly told stories of mayhem, addiction and unhealthiness of gay people will change, and already is changing.
Gay people are now showing as much healthiness in relationships as straight people and in some cases even better marriage relationships by percentages. This is due to a release and decrease of shame that has been the foundation of the problems within the gay culture.
I remain challenged by your messages, being you are a woman, which I find primarily untrue for the male population of gay people. Our genders are distinctly different. Our experiences are also unique. While some, like yourself, speak of changes, this is not true for the VAST majority who have spent much of their lifetime attempting change.
I’d love to see sexual orientation change efforts to become honest about outcomes and to allow for a variety of experiences rather than to speak as though its available for all. With twenty two years of experience as a leader within the ExGay movement, I remember many of us were fearful of that kind of honesty. We knew our outcomes were not as we spoke them to be. We knew if we were honest we faced the fear of our own demise. As well as my own personal experience, forty years of the ExGay movement proves sexual orientation claims to be untrue. Honesty about those facts would be appreciated.”
History is proving that the ExGay movement has been fraudulent and dishonest about their outcomes. Sadly far too many have been harmed through dishonest efforts and false teaching.