On being gay

There isn’t any really easy or clever way to begin coming out as a gay person. Something happens inside of a person at some point (hopefully….if God is moving him or her forward in life) where living as 2 different people doesn’t work anymore. The secret life of a gay person becomes harder and harder to maintain. The dual desires inside, the private thoughts and struggles and joys just can’t stay in anymore. Hiding isn’t fun, but as a gay person growing up in a Christian environment there isn’t any choice but to hide. Really, let’s be realistic….one could always argue that I had a choice to tell somebody at 12 years of age when I was majorly crushing on a girl on my basketball team (ok, totally obsessed with her). One could argue that I could have told somebody that if I saw a guy and girl walking down the street it was the girl I was checking out. One could argue I could have told somebody that when I stumbled across a lesbian movie on HBO it clicked in me in a way I knew it wouldn’t for all the other women in my life. One could argue that I could have told somebody when I started falling in love with a girl and I knew it. I had someone tell me once that they believed I would tell them if I was struggling with same sex-attraction. But let’s get serious, when you grow up knowing that being gay is one of the worst possible things you could be, then you don’t even think to tell people things like that. You cringe inside, close your eyes, look the other way, justify that you’re just admiring how skinny said gorgeous girl is, and most of all repeat over and over to yourself, “I’m not gay, I’m not gay, I’m not gay.” When you are unhappy in every relationship with a guy you’ve ever been in, you tell yourself that you just think too much, that it’s not the right guy, that you just need to be a better person…closer to God…read lots of relationship books so that you can understand men and be a great girlfriend and eventual wife…stop stressing so much and just enjoy yourself in a “normal” relationship. And then at some point, you get tired, it gets to be too much. Gay or not, living with a huge secret, living as two different people inside, drains you in ways the human heart can’t go through and stay whole and healthy.

So there was a season of denial that was easy. It was easy to repeat my mantra over and over whenever those feelings came up, “I’m not gay, I’m not gay, I’m not gay.” I figured if I never paid too much attention to that part of me, repeated my mantra if that part of me scared me too much, and never thought about or acted on being gay, then I would be fine. I dated guys….any time a guy excited me it was because it felt so amazing to be wanted, to have someone pay attention to me. I told my parents I didn’t even want to date my first boyfriend, but when he told me how much he liked me, I changed my mind, and dated him for a year. Every time I ever felt attracted to a guy was because I had some fantasy in my mind about said guy that hoped he would be some sort of protection from the shit in my life and a way to feel beautiful, wanted, and validated. When I hit my 20’s things started to get harder. Every one was getting married. My desire to get married, to even be with a guy was getting less and less. At 23 I met a girl who would change my life forever in more ways then I ever imagined. I knew I was falling for her when she would text me and my stomach would do flip-flops and my breath would catch in my lungs a little. She would text me before 5am in the morning when I was on my way to work, and I knew she was thinking about me. Not thinking about me like any of our other friends, but really thinking about me. I started repeating my mantra more….”I’m not gay, I’m not gay, I’m not gay.” When she asked me (innocently as I needed a place to live) to move in to her second bedroom, I was overjoyed. I was already at her place constantly. We were the best friends that two friends can possibly be. We fit perfectly. Being together was as natural as breathing. I knew in my heart that I would always be with her….that she was my forever. Gay or not, I knew it would be me and her till we die. I was relieved to be able to say that I would be living my life as a single girl with my best friend, and our companionship and compatibility would go on forever. I would never have to worry about the hardship of dating another guy or (the worse thing in my mind) marrying one. It was a great set-up because she didn’t want to date or marry any guy either. She wanted to do life forever with me as much as I did with her. And there we were. People would ask me about our relationship, and I would say, “we’re just 2 single people who have decided to do life together forever.” Our lesbian friends laugh at us now. “How could you not have known,” they ask. The truth is the more I did life with her, the more I did know, but I believed if I never told anyone and never acted on it then it wouldn’t be true about me. I believed if I kept it all in then I wouldn’t be gay. God had different plans.

Yes, I’ve been gay for a long time. Yes, denying it didn’t make it not true. Yes, I spent years lying next to her fighting my sexuality all by myself. I never even told her how I felt. I got angry when people would suggest it or ask us if we were gay. I got angry because I was terrified she would get afraid of what everyone thought of us and leave me. I became very good at explaining our relationship in all the right terms so as to answer all the questions, quell the gossip, and calm the fears….my own fears just as much as everyone else’s. When we moved to Denver it was a relief because we didn’t have to deal with small town people and politics. We didn’t have to worry about being seen together anymore, or anyone asking us if we were gay, or people gossiping about us. We could form relationships starting over. Most of our friends in the town we were in in Georgia had already turned their backs on us because we “acted too gay”. We had already suffered so much judgment and rejection and gossip. We were so ready to start over. But being gay didn’t stay in GA where I left a bunch of judgmental people and terrible memories. (minus my school friends, they didn’t seem to care how “gay” she and I appeared…thanks guys)

In fact, the reality that I am gay was becoming more and more evident to me. I kept trying to keep the lid on the “box” inside myself where I kept my secret, but one day God ripped the lid off and threw it away. (I still can’t find it…) It was like all those years of hiding, all my ability to keep it in, was gone. I couldn’t hide anymore. It wasn’t even possible. One of my very best friends, Zack, asked me a question that changed my life and made everything pretty clear to me. He said…if you didn’t have her, would you want to be with another woman? I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would, and I finally acknowledged to myself that I am gay. And I finally acknowledged it to God. Then I began the journey of trying to figure out how I was going to stay alive.

You have to understand that the prospect of finally acknowledging to yourself that you’re gay is more difficult than you can ever imagine unless you’ve been through it. As a straight person reading this, you may think that the world is becoming more progressively open to gay people, but if that is your belief then you watch too many movies and tv show comedies and dramas and you spend way too little time realizing what it’s really like in the world for a gay person….especially a gay Christian. First I had to determine what being gay as a Christian meant to me before I could tell ANYONE I was gay. God is everything to me. I couldn’t turn my back on him just to be in the kind of relationship that straight people take for granted. God had already been planting seeds of love in me though. About a year before I acknowledged my sexual orientation to myself, I met a man named Andrew Marin and read his book called “love is an orientation”. (I would suggest reading it…no, it’s not “pro-gay”…it’s really a book about love and loving.) It made such a huge impact on me. I realized that to be a child of God is to be loved by God, that to be a child of God means that He is continually working in you to do His will and creating you into the masterpiece He has planned you to be since before you were born. This was a great comfort to me. I knew that my being gay wasn’t new to Him, and that he wasn’t shocked or disappointed that I was finally acknowledging it. I realized that it was Him pushing me to be authentically me. That it was Him asking me to be honest with Him, myself, and others….truly honest….for the first time in the 14 years I had been hiding the gay in me. So I started doing a lot of research. I started reading what people have to say about being gay and being a Christian. I told Zack what was going on (he was very accepting no matter what), I told another friend what I was dealing with (she told me I had to make a decision whether to glorify God with my life or not). And this is where I was…does God accept me? Or will I cease to glorify Him if I live as an openly gay person.

I secretly researched these things when she wasn’t around. I knew I had to fight the battle on my own….I had to decide what the direction of my life was for myself…I had to come to a conclusion about my sexuality and my relationship with God on my own. I had many heart-wrenching conversations with God. I prayed, I read, I talked, I emailed people that I didn’t even know who have done research of their own and asked for their point of view. One of these emails changed my life forever. I happened on a CNN article about a pastor in Denver (of all places) who is a straight evangelical and leading a church that believes that people can be gay and Christian. I emailed him immediately. Pastor Mark (at Highlands church in Denver) emailed me back the very same day. His email was full of understanding and love. We emailed some and he connected me with other people at the church who helped me see God working in a way I had felt and seen for a long time, but had never actually seen it lived out. I emailed another gay ministry asking for a mentor, and I was connected randomly (but we all know it was God) to the co-pastor of Highlands church, Jenny, whose story changed my life as well. I knew what God was doing, and I knew it was time to come out to the person I was hopelessly in love with.

We hadn’t ever done anything sexual, anything “gay”. I knew she was gay too, but I didn’t know where she was in her process of acknowledging it. So, I faced the task of coming out to her knowing fully that she might tell me that we couldn’t live together anymore and that she needed space from me. It was terrifying. I remember sitting in the bathroom crying my eyes out, knowing I had to tell her, knowing I couldn’t go back anymore, knowing the lid to my secret box was gone, knowing I could lose the person I loved more than anything. I thought about it being better to die then to live without her. I thought about God having a plan for my life regardless of her response. We were supposed to be getting ready to go to a bible study together. I came out of the bathroom and walked through the living room with purpose…she was coming out of the kitchen, ready to go. I told her I needed us to stay home tonight because I had to talk to her. It took a long time, and I cried a lot. But I knew there wasn’t any going back. I knew who I was. I knew who I wanted to be. I knew that God loved me and that His blessing was on me even as a gay person. I knew it was time to start being the me that I am. And I started with the person that needed to know the most.

Some of you already know that my courage gave her courage to face herself too….to start her own journey of reconciling being gay with her relationship with God. Some of you know that that led to us acknowledging (over time) our mutual love and feelings for each other, and committing (again) to do life together forever this time as a couple. A couple who believes in the ridiculous love of God, and His unconditional grace, purpose, and acceptance for us as gay, as people, as gay people, as children of God. For those of you who don’t know, this is my heart in text for you to read. God is everything to me, I’m in love with a beautiful person, I’m working on living as the whole person I am, I am changing and growing and becoming more and more of who God wants me to be, things are hard and things are amazing, and I’m gay.

7 thoughts on “On being gay

  1. Stephanie, Stephanie…where have you gone? What choices have you made? It makes me sad that you went through all that struggle and pain for those years and had no help. Why did you not seek peace through council with someone? Remember I am writing this not to judge you or criticize you but to bring God’s word to you, I, as many others, care very deeply for you and your heart and soul.
    I find it encouraging that your relationship with God appears to be important to you. As such I hope that His word will also be important to you. The Scriptures contain truth as given by God to us.
    There are two ways to approach life, one is to find God’s truth (when we are so blessed) and arrange your life around it, not as easy as it sounds, a struggle for most of us.
    Another way is to choose another truth and try to fit God into it. You may think you can reconcile the Scriptures and God’s law with this choice you have made, but I don’t think you can do it without deceiving yourself. I believe that the Bible makes it clear that God’s plan for women is to be with a man, be married, produce children and be blessed by that or to be single. He says it in His word.
    Gen 1:27 “So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
    Gen 1:28 “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” Anything else is an attempt to make Him say something that He doesn’t and fit it into your choice as I said above.
    I would submit to you that there is no biblical example of two women or two men living as a couple, as a man and wife per se, that I can find. God speaks to us and guides us only through His Word. Remember, you are made in His image, and saved by His grace.
    I promise to keep you regularly in my prayers and I pray that you would be diligent in seeking out God’s Word and Will from Scripture and prayer.
    Love
    Uncle Mike

    • Hey Uncle Mike! I’m still right here where I’ve always been. I will say in all honesty that since this is the first personal message I’ve received from you in my entire life, you’ll have to remember that speaking into my life now does not suddenly make me feel cared for deeply by you nor does it give any weight to your response toward my life. Still, I understand that you feel the need to speak because you believe very strongly in your position. I would encourage you to continue to seek the Lord’s heart on this issue and trust that He has me in His hands where I’ve always been. He is taking very good care of me. :) I thank you for the prayers as praying for people hopefully helps us gain insight into God’s heart for them! I would encourage you to check out the link I posted in the next blog. It is full of great information about a point of view you may want to learn more about. As always, I believe God’s love is the strongest force and will always bring me, and you, and everyone who is willing to let it change them into the truth and into the light.

  2. Mike, I am the writer of the blog that Stephanie linked to. I hope you do read around on it. Ten years ago I was in the you-surely-cannot-be-gay-and-Christian camp. I have done this ministry work for long enough now to understand that it will in all likelihood not be my interpretation of Scripture that convinces you that perhaps you are not 100% correct.
    I would just ask you these questions and hope that you would wrestle with them IN GOD:
    Have you ever studied the scriptures FOR YOURSELF in the five areas of the Bible with only a concordance in your hand (and your bible of course) and read all the verses before and after the section to get the context?

    How do you treat those in your life and faith community who have gone thru a divorce? Jesus spoke DIRECTLY about divorce twice and Paul three times–directly. People who do not “correctly’ divorce are forever called adulterers. That places them in the same category as you would place homosexuals in Romans 1. We would have some mighty empty churches. Could you perhaps let the way you deal with that group be the way you deal with glbt people while you are on this journey to investigate the Word for yourself?

    What do you see as the “signs” of a believer? Personally, I assess (like it is my job anyway) by : profession, good works and fruits in the life. No where in there is there a separate scale or check list for orientation color, gender. God since the time of Abraham looked at the heart. It was 12 years after God deemed Abraham righteous that He asked Abraham to perform an act in the flesh (circumcision). The point of this is that God has ALWAYS looked the heart as only He can. We are told in many places in the NT that the outside, the gender, the state is not the guideline—He judges us in the SPIRIT yet we continually judge in the flesh. If you want your flesh judged, have at it. Not me. God calls me righteous by my spirit and heart. He does the same with Stephanie.
    Have you spent any time around glbt believers in community? Doesn’t it seem rather foolish to make a judgment based on ‘heresay”? The very first time I stood at the back of a room of 400 glbt Christians, I wanted to fall on the floor in awe of what I was witnessing. I KNEW the Spirit in them was witnessing to the Spirit in me. I would STRONGLY suggest you be brave and confront your bias and visit a congregation of gblt believers. Stephanie tells me you live in Chicago area. Well, you just happen to be in an area with many choices and here is the link: http://www.gaychurch.org/Find_a_Church/united_states/us_illinois.htm If you would like, I could arrange a person meeting with a pastor in your area so that you would feel less like a stranger. I can tell you that the grace and love that oozes from glbt congregations is BEYOND what I have experienced in my 25 yrs in church and 16 years as a youth in RC church. It just seems silly to make assessments on something you may have no experience with.

    Read anything you can on my blog. You are very much my target audience. I was where you are; I get it. From what I read above, you have had no interaction of note investing love and concern into Stephanie’s life to date, yet you come on in with concern now that you hear she is gay. Unfortunately, no matter how well intentioned and concerned you are, you have not earned that privilege. It would be the same on any issue. You want relationship at this point, then love and serve. That is it. Maybe someday you’ll get to assess. Until then, As I always tell people, concentrate on your own sins and when you are done and have any time, energy left, then speak into the lives of those with whom you have that place.

    I would completely welcome you engaging me on my blog, but I will warn you that most of the issues that concern people have already been written about. I may well point to an answer; that is the best use of my time.

    I spend lots of time encouraging young people to stay the course when others tell them they must change or lie to earn God’s love. Lots of time. I have two appts today with young men under 25 on the phone whose parents are demanding they be “not gay”. I have so much experience on this issue with over thousand glbt Christians. The concept of changing orientation is absurd; even the head of Exodus (check them out) is still attracted to men after twenty years in leadership. Another friend ran a live-in program for 11 years, was on the board or and President of Exodus and he NEVER saw anyone change orientation. Another friend FOUNDED Exodus in the late 70’s. Yet another was a leader/speaker/writer/ trainer for them for 15 years and she is still, guess what, a lesbian and one of my dearest friends.

    Mike, I would encourage you to read and listen and pray on this. People like Stephanie have heard your side all their lives. They have relationships with God and the Holy Spirit. Sadly, many abandon that because they can choose God or not , but they do not get to choose their orientation. We straight people FORCE them from churches because they do not meet OUR guidelines.

    You are operating on YOUR interpretation of a TRANSLATION of the original language then subjected to your own revelation of who Jesus is. And, if Steph wants to be good with God, she just needs to carry around the ESV. Now doesn’t that sound silly? Profession, works and fruit. Look, I think you find it all in this , your niece. Love her and you will be closer to looking like Jesus. Don’t even bother with “love the sinner, hate the sin”–not even in the Bible. Spend your time on YOUR sin and love her.

    I hope you will consider reading my posts. I wish someone had confronted my ignorance on this issue earlier. I hope someday, you will see this as the gift it can be. And, the gift she IS.

    Mother of two straight children, 24 and 25 and humble servant of The God Most High,

    Kathy Baldock
    Reno, NV
    http://www.canyonwalkerconnections.com

  3. Kathy,
    Thanks for you lengthy reply. There are useful questions & studies you suggest. I have done that work and have built understanding around these areas. I’m not quite sure how you added so many points in your response to Uncle Mike’s post.

    I find it interesting from someone who’s urging understanding – that you haven’t practiced it very well here. You assert my father-in-law is ignorant and picked up on one sentence from Stephanie about personal messages – twisting that into an assertion about my father-in-law’s heart in this matter.
    Did I miss you at a family reunion? I married into this family and have been amazed by its consistent, persistent love. Stephanie has 8 aunts & uncle’s on her father’s side alone not to mention the dozens of cousins, inlaws, nieces, nephews. These aunts, uncles have held her as a child, supported her family for decades through thick & thin. I’m sorry and disappointed she’s been wrestling through this on her own, it sounds like a difficult trial. I bet she’d have been surprised by the love and care of her extended family.

    Now that this is brought out for discussion in a blog, this care may not have come through in “comments”. I assure you, Uncle Mike, myself and others in our family while having a lot to learn, are a bit less ignorant than you assert & are very thankful for Stephanie.

    • Hey Stefan, the thing that you have to understand is that though you may find our family consistent and persistent in their love, I have not actually experienced this in ways that manifest themselves in my actual life. I know of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, but they have not been involved in my personal life in any way more than the occasional family get together that happens years and years apart. They may have held me as a child but I see no other tangible support for my life. Yes, my dad and mom stay close to some of you in some ways, but until this point nobody has taken a deep interest in my life. I don’t mind that because it’s what I’m used to. We grew up far away from the wiersma family and were used to only seeing them every few years. Apart from the messages I receive on facebook from Aunt Mary every once in a while, I am not known by or close to any of you. This is what I referred to in my response to Uncle Mike and this is what Kathy was referring to as well. Ironically, I’ve only known Kathy for a matter of months and she knows more about my life and heart then any of my extended family members. You may say that this is my own fault, but it is not. It is how life has worked out. Living in Georgia for the last 13 years and New York before that and Maine before that….I have always found people in my life and gained support from people in my life in many many difficult issues and have never included my extended family (both because of distance in miles and distance in relationship). Now that I have come out as gay, I am receiving comments and emails and my entire extended family is reading my blog. You must understand how this looks to me as an individual, Stefan, and how it looks to those who are actually involved in my life….blood, sweat, and tears. What I was saying, and Kathy as well, is that just because we as an extended family share the same blood, it does not mean that you know anything about my life or have the position in my life to suddenly say that you care. I hope this makes sense to you, though it may not be easy to read or easy for me to write.

  4. Stefan–lots and lots of experience. Have you ever read the book “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell? There is a story of a man in there that runs the Gottman Institute in Seattle. He has done such lengthy and massive amounts of observations of couples that he can predict with incredible accuracy from watching one minute of muted video if a couple will still be married in five years. Observation, sensitivity, experience, training. All these help him do a wonderful job of assessing with great accuracy. I wish I could say I have no experience with family targeting a glbt family member, but, like Gottman, I have an excess of experience. I get to the point, sadly, where I can write the script. I would LOVE to be wrong and see people rally round Stephanie and be blind to her orientation. From what I understand from information posted here and from ongoing relationship with her, I do not think that is happening.
    I wish Stefan that I could see the purity of Mike’s response they way in which you do. I have a hyper-sensitivity to the issue. Like Gottman, it does not take me long to see what is at the core. If I have misjudged it, the purity of that fruit will show and I would gladly hoot and holler over being wrong. Steph will keep me informed as to how it all pans out.
    And do watch for my next post. The frequency with which I get letters from youth whose family rejects them (yes, really, in rejecting Steph’s orientation and wanting her to change, you really are rejecting her) is incredibly painful to read. I am now composing an open letter to Moms and Dads or glbt youth. This destruction has to be brought out in the open and seen for what it is. I am glad that your family is discussing this and I am more thrilled that Steph is being honest at such a young age. Remember, I am the listener to the stories. I hear all the variations and the ones that fare the BEST come out young. This is part of her journey to integrity in God. Just watch her life and see the fruit that comes of it. From what I know already–it is gonna be some dang good fruit very pleasing to her LORD.

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