When I was 11 years old, I discovered, as a result of the onset of puberty, that I had same-sex attractions. Being brought up in a Christian home with my mom as the sole provider, it was quite challenging for me because I always felt like I didn’t belong. While my older sister was talking about her boyfriends, I felt like I couldn’t relate because I was extremely fascinated by some of my girl friends that I went to school with and the girls I was on a dance troupe with. In my early childhood years, before 11 years old, I had been exposed to pornography, was molested, had engaged in oral sex with girls in grade school, and also bullied. For me, as a result of these things, my personal boundaries had been shattered and the desire for sexual contact had been awakened in me. Many of these bodily invasions and treatment of others left a damaging mark on my soul. Even though I had come to know Jesus at 9, I was weighed down with so much shame, guilt, and condemnation. I dreamt over and over again about these things, awakening in the middle of the night in fear. These experiences controlled every part of who I thought I was. And, I was also riveted with a feeling that “people will find out.” I was confused.
The burning passions I felt for other girls and women increased with fury in highschool. As much as I longed to have a passion for other guys, I had feelings for other girls. I spent a ton of time crying and grieving over the fact that I could be gay. I was heavily involved in my youth group, school Bible clubs, church, etc. Although I felt often that I was different (considering I was the only Black girl involved in these activities in the inner city, go figure), I believed that the Lord wanted me to keep growing in my faith, seek support about m feelings through mentors, pray, and read my Bible more. I bought into this WHOLE idea that if I “just prayed away the gay feelings” I will be ok. I was told about Exodus by a teacher at my school. But she said, “Well, since you haven’t really acted out on these feelings in highschool, this organization is NOT for you.” So, she encouraged me to just go to prayer, seek God in His Word, and stay connected with other believers. And, all those things WERE helpful for me. And, I know that this teacher was doing the best she could with my disclosure to her. However, my confession came with a price. And guess what…I was rejected by this older sister in Christ, under the guise of “I believe the Lord is moving on from this prayer ministry.” Fortunately, I was able to move on slightly although, honestly, quite hurt that apparently some of my actions (childish because I was a child) began to make her uncomfortable.
After attending that prayer group for a year and a half, I had a ton of relief from my same-sex feelings and desires. Maybe my hormones settled a bit as a result of getting older. Or, maybe ‘prayer’ had cured me. I was happy that prayer had become a “gay be gone” anecdote to my emotionally rooted problem. I was serious about my faith and was glad that sexuality was not going to keep me from knowing Christ and serving in the church community. I thought I was “healed,” but little did I know that I was just putting a Band-Aid over some deep wounds of my past and present that I believe fueled my desire for the same-sex.
I went to Moody Bible Institute. In that time, I had believed that I had a handle on my sexuality. I had not acted out since I was a child and did not plan on it. However, as I look back, it seems as if I began to behave like a “lezzie”-(this means finding a woman you care deeply about. After a couple months, you move in with them). But, I did this emotionally several times. I wanted a best friend, sought after the girls that I perceived to be attractive (however, I didn’t have feelings for them, just drawn to them magnetically.). We became friends, I basically gave my heart to them, became really dependent on them because they were very nurturing, then after a few months of bickering, fighting, and avoidance, they decide to end the friendship. I noticed that something was wrong; a pattern that kept repeating itself in my life. I sometimes thought, “Could it be I had been attracted to the same-sex before?” I did not understand why my relationships with women were so complicated. But, they were. Because of the ending of these relationships, I became depressed and put up a wall emotionally. I was tired of being hurt so I went to counseling. At that point in my life, I didn’t feel the need to take on a gay-identity. Actually, I never wanted to and still don’t want to. I knew that identifying myself would solidify something I knew would take me down a road I did not believe God wanted me to go.
Grad School and Later
My last year of college and first year of grad school, I was in counseling for 2 years. During that time, I never told my counselors that I had at some point in my life had same-sex desires. I didn’t feel like it was relevant or necessary to discuss with them. Looking back, I wish I would have told them, but in that time, I found people very untrustworthy and unforgiving. So, I conveniently left that part out. In grad school, a few of my classmates had alluded a couple times about a “male energy” I had. Some were bold enough to make comments about me being in a relationship with a woman. Others sensed my gaping need to connect with a mother and were a bit concerned about that energy I had, also known as emotional dependency. My program at Columbia College Chicago was very eastern in thought, gay affirming, and accepting of spiritual thinking and openness. Quite foreign for someone coming out of conservative Christian MBI. I kept thinking in grad school, “Lord, I know I’m not gay. Please don’t let any of these people place that label on me.” However, I believe that it was the Lord’s strategy for me to connect back to my emotional life and really deal with it’s wounding. Part of dealing with it had to do with me admitting and facing that I probably still had some same-sex attractions. But, I was unwilling to face that reality in grad school. So, I suppressed it more but it was soon to emerge. Honestly, if this is the place I’m allowed to be real, I just wanted to be loved without conditions. Before finishing grad school, I had a surgery that almost took my life. It was then I realized and was awakened to the possibility that the Lord wanted to do some work in my life.
Soon after I graduated from grad school, only months after my surgery, I met up with some old college friends. One of them gave her brief testimony about how she had thought she was gay at one point in her life, but that the Lord had revealed himself to her in a special way, and she was “walking the straight and narrow”, also known as the holiness track-no dating/or being physically involved with other women. I thought this woman had it all together. And, it had been a really long time since I had connected emotionally with someone. It was a breath of fresh air for me to hear that it was possible to just keep pursuing God even though you have a past with same-sex attractions, and that I was on the right track. I thought this sister would give me pointers. So, we connected, and I proceeded to pick her brain about her thoughts about relationships, God, and sexuality. Then, my attractions emerged as if I was in highschool again. I became embarrassed about beginning to feel this way toward her. I was frightened and immediately, within the first month of our friendship, I assumed the worse. I thought she was going to leave me. So, with all of my own undealt with unhealthiness, I pursued a friendship with her full forced. In retrospect, I probably should have slowed down and re-evaluated what I was really trying to get out of the friendship. But, I didn’t then because I didn’t have the tools. Long story short, our friendship ended. It was one of the most dramatic and brutal endings of a friendship in my life! But through the drama, I encountered God’s love.
What About Now?
I tell you all this to really just put myself on blast. Yes, I have grappled with same-sex attraction in the past. Yes, if I’m being “raw” here, they are still with me as I write this post. No, I’m NOT gay. I do not identify myself in being gay because I finally understand what it means to be identified with Christ. This means plainly that whatever God says about me is true, then it’s true. If God says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light,” (1 Peter 2:9) then that is who I am. I belong to God. Yes, while I was at Exodus, I was a bit too excited (attracted) to someone there, even while being a speaker. Did I pursue anything? Nope. I did what Interim Directorsaid on his video blog, “Humanize the idol.” That helped alot. Yes, I was embarrassed and felt ashamed because ‘How could a speaker be tempted at a conference to help people with unwanted same-sex attractions?’ Don’t forget, Christians, that we have an enemy.( I will post more about that later too.) My heart is to honor God with my body, soul, and spirit and to not have sex (or even lust after emotionally) with a woman. I also want to honor God with my body by not having sex with a man until I’m married to him. Yes, I believe the creative intent of God was for a family as it involves marriage to be between a man and a woman. Does marriage between a man and a woman work? That answer will be given on another post, maybe. But here’s my point in saying all this:
I don’t want ANYONE to say that I have it all together. When they look at me, I want them to say I am HELD together by Christ. Christ ALONE is my present and future “…hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) As I have been growing closer to God and recognizing what I really need, I have learned this on my journey; my attractions are NOT sin in and of themselves. It’s only temptation. However, my attractions, at times, have really signaled to tell me I’m in need of something. (Even that whole theory of mine will be explained on later posts.) But, I’m confident in this thing right here: I’m loved and that God’s grace is perfected when I’m weak at times. I no longer “white-knuckle” my feelings. I let myself feel…then I reach out to a friend, brother, or sister in Christ…….then, I move forward. My obedience is in the forward motion, NOT the temptation dwelling. 🙂