Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Is My Faith Different Because I’m Gay?

The expression of a person’s faith is a very personal thing. The perceived or real boundaries of Christianity can be restrictive and even smothering for members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community. For me, the struggle came at three different stages. Firstly, when I wondered about my sexuality, secondly when I finally said out loud to myself that I was gay and finally when I decided to have sex with a guy. Let’s explore each of those three stages in a little more detail.

1. I Wondered about my Sexuality
Before I discovered the LDS Church, when I was about eleven years old, I found myself liking boys and seeing them as something different. At that age I didn’t really know about sex, I just knew that I found boys and men attractive. As a young kid I understood that many saw that as wrong and so it was something that I never talked to anyone about.

I was a latch key kid who spent many days at home alone during the school holidays, I watched a lot of movies and spent some time with friends. At some stage I came across two movies that I’ve lost count of how many times I watched them. One was “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and the other “Risky Business” with Tom Cruise. I loved these movies for two very different reasons.

I was infatuated with Tom Cruise, especially the scene where he slides into view wearing a white business shirt, boxes and white socks. In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I saw a man called Frank-N-Furter who wore what looked like women’s clothes and he was making a man called Rocky, a guy he seemed to like a lot.

I knew every word to every scene and at 38 I think I can still quote a few scenes if needed at some obscure pub game. These movies and one other, “St. Elmo’s Fire”, enabled me to see alternative lifestyles from those I had been exposed to, I saw men in relationships with each other. The night I saw St. Elmo’s fire, I really struggled with the outcome of Andrew McCarthy’s character. He was gay and had fallen in love with a guy, but it was a love that would never happen. I think I was about 14 when I saw this movie, I went to bed that night and I remember crying in bed because I felt something of what that might be like.  Mum heard me crying and came into my room, she asked me what was wrong. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I essentially said the movie had made me upset, I didn’t go into detail about why.

This phase of wondering about my sexuality continued until I was in my late twenties. I joined the LDS Church at 16 and this caused a distraction, but not for long. However the Church gave me a framework to manage my feelings and to compartmentalize parts of myself that I didn’t want to face or address at that stage.

This process was helpful and in some cases, for many months, I could happily move through life without thinking about guys. The Church teaches that celibacy can lead to a happy and fulfilling life, I do find it ironic that this council comes from a group of elderly married men. My struggle with this council is that I believe God created me as I am, I know he wants the best for me. If my homosexuality is a temptation, why after 38 years of trying to overcome the temptation am I no closer to putting it aside today than I was from the beginning? 

In addition, why do I feel the way I do in a relationship with a guy? I feel whole, I feel complete and most importantly I feel happy, at peace and I don’t feel guilty. There are those in Church who would explain this away because of my apparent disobedience, my behaviour has distanced me so far from the spirit, I can no longer sense that which is right or that which is wrong. Perhaps, but I disagree. From the LDS Church publication, “God Loveth His Children” we read:

“God assures His children, including those currently attracted to persons of the same gender, that their righteous desires will eventually be fully satisfied in God’s own way and according to His timing.”

I read into this a different meaning than perhaps the one the Brethren mean. I see that God loves his gay children as he loves all of his children. God is no respecter of persons, meaning he does not favour one child over another, all are equal before him. I’ve come to the conclusion that we really don’t know where gay children fit within God’s great plan of happiness. Given the quote above, I believe my righteous desires will eventually be fully satisfied in God’s own way and according to His timing.

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