I give God all the glory when I say “former.” The word tells us “And such WERE some of you, but, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
I grew up in a turbulent home In Crofton, Maryland where my mother and alcoholic stepfather fought constantly. My biological father walked out on us when I was 6. My mother battled with ill health and depression and wasn’t really available for me emotionally. By the time I was in 2nd grade I’d been sexually abused by a neighbor across the street. The abuse would continue through my stepfather well until I was the age of 13.
I first began experiencing same sex attractions when I was in the 3rd grade. The Lord led me to himself when I was 14 years old and for a few months I was on fire for God through his word and church. It wasn’t long though before peer pressure crushed that fervent spirit and I began using drugs and alcohol to fill the deep void I seem to carry around on the inside.
My reality with men was either they walked out on me or abused me. There was no positive influence by them at all in my life.
I went to my first gay bar in Washington, DC at 17 and I thought all my problems were solved. Other women and men just like me! Now I could feel normal! But this wasn’t normal at all. It only fueled my alcoholism and drug addiction further. The people I seem to meet and hook up with were like me alright, they drank as much as I did and used drugs as hard as I did. I never felt love; all I ever experienced was liquor/drug fueled lust.
Of course, I didn’t have that realization at that time, only years later would I come to recognize the truth. My cycle was go look for the love in the bars, drink, dance, find another woman who was just as emotionally needy as I was, go home with her, wake up hung over and in shame over the night before, repeat the following weekend. This pattern would continue for 10 years.
When I was 27 I was introduced to a 12 step program that would bring me my first taste of recovery from alcoholism. At that same time I took a job with the Human Rights Campaign Fund (now called the Human Rights Campaign). They are the nation’s largest gay and lesbian civil rights organization, located in Washington DC. I worked in their development department and was educated on all gay/lesbian issues. Given the opportunity a few times to take part in lobbying activities on Capitol Hill on behalf of the gay and lesbian political agenda, I jumped in full force. I attended and was politically active in both the March for Women’s Lives (pro-choice) in 1992 and the National Gay and Lesbian March on Washington in 1993.
It was also during this period that I began visiting various denominations “looking for God.” I went to a Unitarian Universalist church, the Metropolitan Community Church and even a gay and lesbian Jewish synagogue! Needless to say, He wasn’t at any of those locations. Frankly, I believed God was okay with my lifestyle and I rationalized it by telling myself “God would rather have me loving people than killing them.” Deception, utter deception.
After my time at the Human Rights Campaign, I went on to work at the National Association of People with AIDS first as their development associate and then as their development director. I was still immersed in the politics and culture of the gay and lesbian community.
In August, 1997 I moved to London, UK with my partner. In 1998, my partner went to Ecuador with a Spanish language immersion course and I was left in the UK alone. God got me right where he wanted me.
Out of nowhere the thought came to me “What does God think of my homosexuality?” I began reading liberal (John Boswell and Troy Perry among others) views on Christianity and homosexuality as well as the conservative views. I also went out and purchased a bible and read all the passages pertaining to homosexuality. The explanations of those passages by the liberal views simply were not lining up with what the Bible seemed to say rather straightforward, to me. Romans 1 was not about male temple prostitution! It was about ALL people who practice homosexuality!
God had opened my eyes to the truth of scripture. When my partner returned from Ecuador, I took off the gold ring she’d given to me and put it down, telling her “I cannot live this way anymore.”
I’m not going to say I walked with God faithfully afterwards. That isn’t true. I went through a great deal of pain and depression and I relapsed into alcohol abuse off and on for the next few years. But I have been celibate since that time, in 1998.
My identity is no longer found in the gay and lesbian community but rather in Christ. I no longer live with a void inside my spirit. God has filled that void with himself and I am grateful for his work in me. He has done it all; it’s nothing I’ve done. I don’t really identify as ex-gay either. I don’t hear people in church identifying as ex-gossips or ex-adulterers. I’m just Jill, a woman who desires to serve her great God and walk in fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!