Recently, on January 12th, I celebrated 4 years of freedom from “the stained glass closet.” This is what I wrote on my personal profile:
For over 20 years in the ex-gay/conversion ministry world, I was told directly or had personal fears that certain things would happen if I ever “embraced being gay” again. I am going to put three of these accusations and personal fears in quotes (below) and then address each one directly:
“If you dare darken the door of a gay bar, group, association that they will hate you because of your faith in Jesus and past as a ex-gay leader. They will brainwash you out of guilt to do their bidding.”
While not everyone in the LGBT+ affirming community has been or is quick to embrace or forgive, the other 99% have been the literal personification of grace to me. They have shown more Christlikeness and unconditional love than most of what I can remember when going to church every Sunday. I can honestly say I have yet to feel any kind of pressure, shame or manipulation from my community. So much so, I can finally say “my community” without any internalized fear or hesitation of doing so.
Even the most active activists I know don’t want to tell others what to do, think, or believe. Their (our?) actions are born out of a passion to stop religious public policy or toxic theology that threaten us with abuse, oppression, and inequality. Believe whatever you want to believe, just don’t do it at our expense with the errant belief you have a right to deny us the same freedoms and protections you have enjoyed for generations.
You are going to end up in a big pile of naked people and overdose on drugs.
Don’t laugh. That was a literal fear! May have been my personal worst fear. The first time I was “out” in the ’80’s…that scene happened quite a bit around the party life I was a part of and my experience was not a good one. It caused me a great deal of heartache actually. All these three decades later, not only do I not know where the big pile of stoned naked people are, I don’t even think to try to find out. It’s not a requirement or even an interest. I mean, honestly, no judgment, Y’all do your thing…it’s just not my thing.
In ex-gay/conversion ministry world, being gay is reduced to some sort of lewd, hedonistic, sexual ickiness that conservatives even loathe considering (but many fantasize about.) They ignore the fact that party/group/public sex is as much a part of the heterosexual world (if not more so) than the LGBT+ community. They can’t even fathom that those types of activities can be engaged with personal responsibility, interpersonal respect, and boundaries, as well as maturity. But because it has been used to stigmatize gay men in particular, they honestly believe that is all any of us ever *really* do.
It’s just … silly.
Again, it’s not my thing. That’s not a judgment of others just a statement of personal thingy-ness. My particular kind of “gay lifestyle” is pretty boring. Our wild in crazy events consists of pasta night while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race.
If you go back to being gay, Jesus will leave you and take His favor from you. You will be cursed.
He hasn’t. He’s a good shepherd… remember? If anything my faith is stronger because I have and live in essence, the Spirit, of my faith; not the moral self-righteousness culturally derived from a legalistic reading of a stigmatized interpretation of “scriptures.”
As I have said a million times, I never “went back” to anything. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, led me forward, one step at a time, out of the closet and into a truly marvelous “light” and life.
Instead of being cursed I have been blessed with Dan and his daughter. Blessed with a job and the opportunity to rebuild a career. I no longer feel the need to keep proving or justifying myself through the lens of others. I love Thriving instead of simply surviving. Life hasn’t been a cakewalk but sometimes the cakewalk is more dangerous than the struggle. I am grateful that the past is being used to create and to serve the good now.
Yes, when I first came out, I had a lot of baggage. Four years later I realize that while some of it needed/needs to be unpacked…most of it just needed to be looked at realistically, objectively, shake my head at it, and left behind. Instead of curses coming my way, the curse off ex-gay/conversion ideology has been discarded so that I can fully receive the blessing of what it means to be a gay man.