A couple of years ago, although still almost completely closeted, I had reached the point where I was fully comfortable with my identity as a Christian lesbian. I had done my homework, and I knew where I stood. But I also knew that others may not be so quick to appreciate or understand my newfound liberation of self. There became a very gradual turning point in which I began to come out very slowly, on a person-by-person basis. I had a set of ground rules that were unintentional at first, but soon became my handy reference guide on coming out as a Christian lesbian in the buckle of the Bible belt. First off, I never directly brought up the subject of my sexuality. I decided that my orientation was part of who I was, but it was not—and still is not—my identity. So I decided to forge friendships as naturally as I possibly could, until the subject would inevitably come up in a sort of indirect way. Many times, this would be in the form of a question: Don’t you have a crush on anyone? What’s your idea of a perfect man? What’s the longest relationship you’ve ever had? Or the ones that never failed to make me wince: Don’t you ever have issues? What’s your past like? You don’t seem to carry any significant baggage.
Oh, if only you knew.
So, when these opportunities would arise, I would move on to the next item on my mental checklist: If I come out to this person, will it strengthen my relationship with them, or will it destroy it? Sometimes, people make it easy to determine the benefits of being transparent and honest with them. For instance, if you know they already have friends who are gay and love them, you know you’ll be accepted. But oftentimes, there’s not a clear-cut answer to this question. In fact, people can (and will) possibly react in the exact opposite way you expected them to. And of course, there’s more at stake if you’ve been friends with someone for a very long time. You can get burned. Trust me, I know. And sometimes… well, sometimes you get a response like this:
I was out with some new friends one night when the inevitable conversations about our prospective love lives began. These were very open-minded, easy-going people. After deciding that I was in a safe zone, I came out to them. It went well. We talked a bit more… and eventually, two of these three girls confessed to me that they had “made out” with a woman before. Confused, I said, “But you guys are straight!”
One of them replied, “Well, I’d had a little too much to drink that night. I was just having fun. It was nice to try something different.” The other girl nodded in agreement. Apparently it was the same story with her, as well. As I was processing this new information, I said, “Well, I’m just so thankful that you guys are accepting of me.”
“Oh you know we love you! It’s just something you struggle with. I mean, I don’t think it’s right for people to actually be in a gay or lesbian relationship. But I think it’s super cool that you’re so honest about your issues.”
Ok… hit pause. What exactly was she saying? That it was ok for her to get drunk and make out with someone that she normally wouldn’t make out with? But it wasn’t ok for me—who is fundamentally attracted to women—to share a life with someone that I love? In her eyes, it would be better if I could just force myself into a relationship with a man, perhaps even getting wasted to do so. Because let me tell you… that’s what I would have to do in order to wear a heterosexual mask. It is simply not who I am.
Many people like to use the letters of Paul to condemn the LGBT community. I’m quite certain that every gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, gender-queer, questioning person, and straight ally has heard Romans 1:26. This is where Paul speaks of those still engaging in pagan worship practices, and tells us that they’ve been given over to their sinful desires, to practice that which is unnatural as opposed to natural. Now, many of you know that I personally don’t believe this verse is speaking about monogamous, sexual relationships as we know them today. But for the sake of conversation, let’s say it is. Many Christians today are beginning to realize that sexuality is a product of genetics—that people truly are born with their respective orientation somewhere in their DNA. What is your natural orientation? How can you honor God with the sexual identity He has given you? Have you ever tried to change your natural sexual orientation? If so, what’s your story? How did it end up?
While there will be many different answers to these questions, one statement remains constant: You cannot be true to God without first being honest with yourself. Open up, be authentic, and let God take you where He will. I can promise you He doesn’t disappoint.