Gay is the last word which I ever thought could be used to describe me. I bumped on it back in the year 2010 as I tried to understand why the sight of other shirtless men had continually worked to arouse me. Mr. Google told me that I was either a confused teenager or ‘Gay’, and my response was, NO way, I can never be that (Gay).
You see, many understand ‘Gay’ to mean; the guys engaging in unlimited sexual relations with each other, those caught up on G***r hook ups. Or maybe those pushing the church to change its doctrinal statements and calling for the endorsements of same sex marriages. Some also see it to mean the anti-Christ, the enemies of marriage.
What do me then, one who believes that God’s design for marriage is between a man and woman and one who takes faith and sin as seriously as a believer ought to have to do with the term ‘Gay’?
Well, the following are my reasons:
1) I need a language to describe my enduring pattern of physical emotional and sexual attractions towards my same sex. Many would wish that I don’t even acknowledge that part of reality about me, I have however decided that the closet is never a safe space for a Christian, especially since ‘they triumphed over him due to the blood of the lamp and the power of their testimony’. And my almost exclusive same sex attractions journey is part of that ‘testimony’. So how do I describe this experience? I often will say, ‘I experience same sex attractions’ or ‘I have a same sex orientation’ or still that ‘I am not much straight’. I have often used these hoping they could easily pass in my Christian circles. Surprisingly, they don’t. I am often then needed to explain. At times they will ask, are you like saying you are Gay, and I am like, well, yes, but… You see, though I may ran away from it (Gay) for fear of the baggage that it carries, I have realized that same sex attraction or orientation to my every crowd just means Gay, and its’ easier to start with it and then explain my living out of the same. For this reason, depending on the context, I am bound to use SSA but still will not shy away from using the term Gay, even though I still need to explain.
2) LGBT+ people are hated, seen as disgusting and out rightly rejected in my community. These are the people whose experience of living in the world I can much relate. As a sign of solidarity, I am willing to pick up the label that defines my experience with them in some way and the closest term to that is Gay.
3) It is not true that Gay only means sexually indulging, promiscuity or glorying in perversion . If it has been seen to mean that then that must have been the works of the ever sexualized world that we live in. Otherwise, just as straight, every orientation is in control of the one who possess it. Even the Gay orientation. It thus can be abstained from (in matters of indulgence) or even pursued in ways consistent to ones beliefs, and for me it’s mostly in ways that the Bible calls holy. One of them is being in intimate friendships, opposite sex marriages and every other forms of Holy service.
4) Shame paints the term Gay. This is often due to the internalized self-shame on one’s attraction and the desire to not be ‘like them’. I have met people who could be said to inhabit all the so called Gay stereotypes that they have been made to feel ashamed about. Thus, they would wish to have little to do with the term that calls them to be in touch with that part of their skin. I do not wish to blame anyone for this, but as for me, I have realized that, there is much glory in some of what could be called Gay stereotypes, and I believe that under the Lordship of Christ, many of those who inhabit them are can flourish even/in them. Whether they come out as gay or not, one can rest only in the Biblical wisdom of manhood and womanhood and thus not be ashamed of any mannerism that could be off the societal expectation.
5) For me the term Gay is better than the term homosexual.This traces back to the fact that homosexual is getting a little archaic in its English language usage. Also, now that ‘Gay’is more general, I find it easier to use instead of ‘homosexuality’ when it comes to holistic Bible discussions on the same.
6) To help people see that Gay and straight are broken forms of sexuality that are bound to happen to anyone else. None of them is a ticket to heaven, only Jesus is. That all broken sinners are only saved by grace through faith in him alone. Where all lives are submitted to His word and only lived out under his grand-vision. For this is the way of God, the blessed news.
7) To keep the conversation going on in my society especially in the church of God that I am part of. The term Gay is puzzling, uncomfortable, and disturbing, not only in the church but in every other African community. It is about a conversation we don’t want to have because we feel ill equipped for the same; a people that we don’t have an answer about, those that seem like the outright enemies of our faith. Sadly, in the same pews are people who have not heard the term once, only that it was outside their places of hope, people who are seeking for guidance on how their faith influences this part of their life, but no one is willing to bring it up. Hence I hope it will open up a conversation, I trust God that it will not shut doors but open many of them. I hope those experiencing a same sex attraction will be seen and accepted, loved by their savior and communities.
I agree that I can never redefine the term Gay, I can however use it alongside other descriptions like same sex attracted (SSA) to point out about how a good and holy God saves a sinner like me/us. That this will point everyone to the story of the gospel and that it will be good news for all, especially to those who fall in the LGBT+ family (either by identification or association). I however give room to everyone for a discernment on how God wills one to describe their same sex attraction even if it includes not having any label.