All of us have a desire to have an identity. Usually this identity is what gives us purpose to our lives. For some, their identity is in their work. They live for their career and find substance in climbing the corporate ladder. Others it is their family. They seek to always serve and provide and lead their family. Over a lifetime, those identities can change, or take on new forms. For myself and many of those who grew up around me, our identity was always rooted in Faith.
Through my grade school years until college it was easy to recite that my faith gives me purpose. Christ came for us, He died for us, and our identity was fulfilled in the simple fact that we now have a connection to God and are destined to live this out in eternity. I wholeheartedly still believe that to this moment, but I must admit, like many others, oftentimes something comes to challenge that first place identity, and we are forced to either let it take over, find a way where it flows with our primary identity (for me that was faith), or we remove it from our life because it isn’t healthy.
It has taken me nine years to get to where I am. To this very moment, typing away one of my biggest secrets, being vulnerable with all, even many who maybe don’t even know me. During the last nine years my sexual identity has wrestled to be in first place with Faith. You see, in the community that I grew up in, I was taught these two could never co-exist. I was so nervous! Most of my friends who had come out as gay, had left the greater institution of church as a whole, and like many others (not all) in the gay community, quickly took up their sexual identity and found source and hope in that network. I believed this would not be my fate. I knew that Christ would always be primary in my heart. But I could understand why many left that identity. After all, the very institutions that the worked so hard for, in return rejected them, some in a loving way, and others abruptly.
This is where my life gets a little different. In the fall of 2014 I stumbled upon a book call Torn by Justin Lee. As I read his biography, I realized his life mirrored mine in many ways. He grew up in church, went to prepare for the ministry, took his faith seriously and reverently, yet he had same sex attractions and felt lonely, torn, and left in the middle. Through his and many others’ study of the scripture he began to see that maybe something that was so “settled” upon in the church, possibly could have more to the story. After much prayer and supplication, I accepted my same sex attractions as who I was and began a new journey of understanding what my purpose and context in life was as a gay Christian. (In the blogs ahead I will certainly elaborate on this more.)
Fast forward to this Summer! I got into my car and I drove off. I called my partner at the time and when he answered, I said “It’s done, it’s out there, I did it.” Like everyone else their first question was, “How did they take it?” I decided to finally share with my family that I was gay. First I must say that I am so blessed to have them in my life. Like many other families, there certainly are questions and thoughts, but their love never wavered. Not all are as lucky as me. Many friends have lost contact with parents, have been kicked out, all due to deeply held religious beliefs. While we may not all see eye to eye, there is dialogue, and that is important with any new situation brought up within the family structure.
So why do I write this? Why do I share this now verses back in August when I opened up about my sexuality? Well there is a time of preparation that everyone needs when they feel compelled to share their story. In many ways I have been healing still from the past nine years. In other light, I felt that it was not yet the right time to share, as I still had (and have) so much to process emotionally and spiritually. But as I mentioned in my blog prior, I share this story for the many out there in my same boat. Whatever your view is on your sexuality, whether you chose to seek out counseling to negate same sex attraction, choose to live celibate in respect to God, or you accept who you are and believe that you can have a flourishing loving relationship with someone of the same sex, I’m here to say that you are not alone, and that you can be free and speak up about this journey. We have masked sexual identity in the church for too long, and my hope is that others similar to my walk of faith read this and will be honest and transparent with themselves and with others and take the time to seek Gods answer to a very vulnerable aspect of their life.
As I continue on in my blogging journey, I hope to share some of the struggles that I faced, the hardships that I met, and the victories in my spiritual journey that have pressed me forward. Until then I pray that to whosever’s eyes this reaches to, it would speak love and compassion on their behalf to the LGBT community of faith, and that we all would remember Christ’s greatest commandment: To love one another, just as Christ loved us. Amen.