I am a Christian. I am a gay man. Here is chronicle of my symbolic journey west, toward adventure, challenge, mystery and ultimately peace.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Baggage


Prepare yourselves. You are about to head toward territory that I have taken you to before. I ask for your patience.

I remember finding the underwear sections of the Sears catalog hot.

I remember vacationing in Phoenix when I was in junior high. At the hotel pool, this Adonis of a man arrived and soon stripped down to a white speedo to catch some rays. I was awestruck.

I remember the first time I rented gay porn--which was a trick because I had to find the right store to rent from.

I remember spending the last 60 minutes surfing porn. It literally just happened. Like literally in the hour. What a waste.

All these memories become baggage. They become heavy items which I lug around, perhaps as some self-imposed penance for my attraction to the male body. The load, however, becomes too much at times.

I can be quite agnostic about many things, resisting the idea that I can know things for absolute certain. There is always some doubt. Always. So for me to arrive at the "I'm gay" conclusion and then just get on with my life is a very very large piece of baggage. I find myself asking, "How can I be sure I am gay?" Pinning my sexuality on which photos I liked (ie, Chippendales) and which I was ambivalent about (ie, Playboy) seems like a lousy way to arrive at conclusions about my sexuality.

But it gets worse...I know one of the reasons I struggle so much with accepting about myself what is often so clear to others is that I find so much of the gay culture disheartening. I am not a party boy. I am not a social activist. I am not a social butterfly with the hippest clothes. I do not want another Craig's List hookup, because I have done that, and then been just sick about it. I just find guys more attractive than girls.

There were not lots of guys in high school and college that I crushed on. Sure, Ian the tennis player was so cute, and Mark the pre-med student was built. But I never thought to myself, "Hmmm...I would like to date him" or "I think about him day and night" or "I wonder what he would be like naked in my bed." (Ahem!) Instead I just surfed porn in the corner of the library, usually finding my way to male underwear models.

And then sometimes I am just not sure. I saw the movie Milk last night, and I wondered if I was supposed to be attracted to the guys in the movie or turned on by the gay intimacy therein, but I was not. But when I saw the movie Marley & Me on Christmas Day, I also wondered if I was supposed to be excited when Jennifer Aniston got naked. Which I also was not.

The burden of being gay is too much for me knowing that (1) it's sometimes not all that clear and (2) what is out there does not hold much appeal. Many of the stories I hear about gay people is that they just could not hold back any more. Being gay was such a part of them that they had to go public. I don't feel that way. I feel like I could just go on being single and alone for a long time, because then at least I wouldn't have to feel the brand of society, especially in my part of the country.

But then again, I have to consider the couple times in my life where there was close intimacy with another guy. And it was wonderful. To just hang out with someone, to make dinner with them, to cozy up on the sofa to watch TV, to plant butterfly kisses on his head, to buy small inexpensive gifts which actually held much sentimental meaning, to go on a date. It was all pretty great. Like really great. Like, wow, holding a man that I really care about or having him hold me is amazing. And falling asleep with a guy....sign me up.

My words are failing me today, I can tell. Sorry gang. Perhaps this is what happens when one trudges over the same territory day after week after month after year. Perhaps my assumption is this: The weight of being gay and dealing with the stigma and pondering if God finds it acceptable and wondering if I will find someone to love is so heavy, that I occasionally wonder if I should just go try the ex-gay thing and see what happens. It has to be easier than this life of mine now.

6 comments:

KJ said...

One truly cannot know what is right for another, but I'll speak of my own experience, and you can draw from that what you will. Also, I believe that God calls people to relationship and to "singlehood." Jesus lived it; Paul advocated for it. However, it must be a calling, not a prescription, otherwise it has become a religious thing without spiritual benefit.

Regarding "ex-gay" -- I must confess, I gave them only a passing glance, for two main reasons. First, I am in a health-related field, a profession that requires evidenced based practice. If I did not treat clients with such proven interventions, I would be at risk of losing my license to practice and liable for lawsuits. The "reparative treatments" provided by ex-gay programs have no such evidence, which led to the second reason I did not submit myself to their influence, the entire program is then based on "leaders" knowing the "leading" of "followers." That is never a recipe for spiritual or emotional health. In fact, I think that it makes a mockery of the incarnational ministry to which we are called. Pretending what is true is not, denying the Spirit to use his creation in ways his breath leads, wearing a mask lest we be transparent and others know us fully, flies completely in the face of the Incarnation which brought God to be with us so that we would know what love and authenticity look like. Ex-gay ministries would appear to demonstrate what subterfuge looks like -- like the world needs more of that!

Regarding relationships, whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, we are more than just a sex drive. If one approaches any type of relationship in the context of sexual gratification, the relationship is doomed. And when in a relationship, while the great is great, life brings the "worse" along, and it's only grace that gets one through.

I hope that you are aware that glbt individuals are in fact, individuals, and the lives they live should be seen in that light. Prior to coming out, I bought into what the conservative church said was the perverted "gay lifestyle", devoid of happiness and filled with satisfaction of lust.

Well, that's no more true of homosexuals than heterosexuals, though those of us who have grown up in conservative faith settings tend to carry baggage that is not necessarily healthy and can result in unhealthy choices. While that doesn't excuse anything, it explains a lot. If one grows up abhorring who one is, illness and maladaptive behavior will come of it, not to mention the lack of opportunity to have experience in intimate relationships.

If one sees two possible lifestyles, Gospel and not, knowing how to live a life of integrity, IMHO, becomes much, much simpler. For me, being in contact with other glbt believers was in important part of that -- Helping me to get away from stereotypes, learning I wasn't the only gay believer on the freakin' planet, and not the only evangelical boy to end up in a faith setting that hitherto, I had seen beyond the pale, only to learn that God is at work throughout the church, in spite of my biases and prejudices. Who knew?

I've gone long and will stop. Don't overcomplicate it, Journeyman. Set sexuality aside -- What do you need to be spiritually and emotionally healthy? By that I do not mean "correct belief" -- The hundreds of Christian denominations illustrate to us that's a fool's errand. What causes you to be in relationship with our Creator, remembering that he longs to be in relationship with you, and, of course, is the One who makes it possible, as our efforts are futile. Make that your focus, and all the rest will fall into place.

Peach of Christ

Joseph P. Mathews, OSL said...

Thank you for writing.

Brandon said...

Man, I feel for you. I've had some of the exact same thoughts lately, though more toward the "just give in and screw a guy already" direction. I keep feeling attraction toward men but don't really think sometimes I'd actually enjoy living with another man, but also realizing I want to follow God but also not be alone all the rest of my life.

I think there are some real pros to remaining single. However, I can't help but wonder what that could mean for me when I'm older not having a family of my own. And sometimes the loneliness can just get at you.

But I personally find it hard to believe God could ever be happy about me being with another man. I think if I did have a boyfriend the thought of that would always be at the back of my mind.

Anyway, I feel for you in your struggles and wish the best for you. You'll be in my prayers.

Brandon

A. Friend said...

Wow, man, wow.
I found you through CollegeJay's blogroll.

I'm in my twenties and a lot of the things you talk about I can understand 100%. A lot. I kind of don't know where to start.

I did not feel any compulsion to be out and proud either. I felt I could be silent. But then after I stopped being bitter about having same-sex attraction a funny thing happened:

1. I felt a whole lot better.
2. I wanted to tell someone.

Mind you, I did not want to be out to the world, but I wanted someone to know--someone I could be open to.

I kind of found that in a way and that was another revelation in itself. (Ask God to lead you right there.)

Do you still feel angry?
Do you feel bitter you are stuck in this situation?
My breakthrough was in just accepting that "it is what it is" and that God was not "to blame" or "culpable". I cannot stress how much help that was.

I can also get the stress over porn issues.

Also I can get the feelings of what to do with your mere attractions on a daily basis. Like two days ago for me I saw a guy...my goodness! Anyways, enough of that...lol.

I don't want to ramble here but I want you to know that I have been in dark places and that God has led me out. I chose to follow Him no matter what, and to tell you the truth He has not let me down.

I cannot tell you how much wiser and happier you will be in life if you pick up the habit of taking the road less traveled with Jesus.
The best way I can put it is that you'll find worlds you didn't even know existed. You won't believe what you'll find when you push through the thick brush, bust through that wall, take the steep mountain trail, dive into the murky waters.

I hope you post an update soon man. Most important thing is to keep your relationship with Jesus intact. Don't give up on Him at all. Ask Him to truly lead you.

Just remember, the road less traveled is the way.

Take care!

A. Friend said...

Ooh.
Another thing that helped me was to stop thinking about what being single and 57 years old would feel like.

You don't have to think about the rest of your life. You only have to live life today and God has sufficient grace for now.

Also, you don't have to worry about "living a lie". Your sexual attractions don't have to define who you are. Simply acknowledging that they exist is enough to satisfy the honesty criterion. You are not "living in denial" because you don't have a boyfriend.
That is my take anyway.

I define who I am and nobody else.

Lastly, I forgot to add that I also decided that not only would I not feel guilty about my attractions, but that I would not make them going away important anymore. When I did that, then I really felt a huge sense of relief.

God can take them away and He has not, so obviously there is nothing I can do about it. Why try to do something myself that only God can do and that He has refused to do?

Dannybrou said...

"There were not lots of guys in high school and college that I crushed on. Sure, Ian the tennis player was so cute, and Mark the pre-med student was built. But I never thought to myself, "Hmmm...I would like to date him" or "I think about him day and night" or "I wonder what he would be like naked in my bed." (Ahem!) Instead I just surfed porn in the corner of the library, usually finding my way to male underwear models."


This..my friend. Hit home with me. Exactly how I was...exactly.