This is an article I wish I never sat down to draft, not due to its content but more so due to my context. Though I seek to be understood many will end up doing otherwise. In hope, though I will pen my words down, someday maybe, someone will get it. This has come about due to my own personal experience and the many stories I have heard from people who experience an enduring pattern of physical, emotional and sexual attractions towards the same gender. I label that experience ‘Gay’ (you can check out here why I prefer the label Gay)
Being Gay in a straight man’s world means living with the constant accusation that you chose to be one (Gay). I have not heard this statement once, or twice but as many times as I can remember. How I wish it was presented in the form of a question, ‘did you choose to be Gay?’ Or in just a blank statement, ‘I don’t know how one can come to be gay.’ Maybe that would show some shred of concern. But everyone makes the verdict and presents it to us, ‘You chose to be Gay.’ If you ever gave us an audience someday, I will tell you how I can consciously trace my same-sex attractions to when I was 11 years old. Some of my other friends speak of a younger age even. It is true that by then we could not give it a name, we thought it was just a phase. It endured though, then we named it for what it was, Gay. You say we learned in high-school, that it was a mistake to have us in an all same-sex boarding school. Well, some of us didn’t engage in any kind of same-sex practice when we were there and for those who did, it was just because it offered what was going deep in us a platform. And just to let you know, some of us were already exploring it with our village friends even before then. You wonder why we can’t just choose to love our opposite-sex friends, I mean, even the physics law of magnetism states, “Unlike poles attract and like poles repel”, why should we claim differently. Well, we don’t know, all we know is that we have tried. We have forced the opposite-sex attraction, forced the opposite-sex relationship, and for some of us, forced the opposite-sex marriage. But we are still as GAY as ever. You also said that if we wanted to change we would, that there are medical professionals who could treat us, and if we wanted the spiritual way, some pastors could easily cast out the demon. Do you know what, if there are people who would ever speak about wanting to change, that’s us, for we tried it all? I assure you that we have done more than you can ever imagine. But then it still left us, Gay.
Being Gay in a straight man’s world means being taught to live in hiding. The ripple effect of this is that it cultivates shame. Thus before we even knew it, after every attempt of not becoming like anyone else, we couldn’t help but abhor our very own existence. A friend of mine spoke of how when he was in high school, his journal was discovered and distributed for reading. The journal was filled with descriptions of his crushes, albeit very graphic, but having nowhere else to express his thoughts and desires without facing the stigma of those around, he poured out his thoughts into that journal. He still doesn’t know who discovered that he had the journal, or the things that he would write therein, but it got distributed around the school for everyone to read. The people mentioned as crushes in the journal ganged up to beat him one Saturday morning, and he had to carry the stain of being the ‘gay student’ for the rest of his high school life, made fun of, ignored and at times insulted. Poor boy! And that’s just one among the many other million stories.You don’t want to know how we processed our crushes, how we managed our arousals, or even how we how shattered we were by our first indulgence on the same. It was not only harder because we felt we were different but also because we did it hiding and then had to act perfect. We would have wished to blame you for never being there to guide, to hear us, or even empathize with us. Oh, the addictions that we have battled tirelessly! But we will not, we know we have had our part to play, and wise also that you are probably not even listening. You are disgusted by us for just acknowledging it, you look at us with suspicion for standing in solidarity with those whose experience what we can deeply relate with, and some of you wish we were erased from the face of the earth. You fight nail and tooth every human right that favor us and always work to destroy every safe space that we may call home.
Being Gay in a straight man’s world means being taught that God loves every straight person and is taking all of them to heaven, his ultimate residence. That apart from heaven he has another place called hell where he houses his enemies, the Gay people. One day he will burn them all up to never exist again. To some of us who knew God as a Father at a very young age, we just didn’t know how to process the claim. Isn’t God the one who knew our every secret and still abided with us? Isn’t he the one who has been a dear confidant, the many sweet hours with him in prayer? Since when did he become my adversary? You however worked to alienate us more from him. Yes, this was/is a thorn in our flesh, but why did you not tell us about his sufficient grace, his power made perfect in a weakness, even this. When all others were taught of how God loved them desired to be reconciled with them, we only knew of how he hated us and wanted nothing to do with us except to send us to hell. A tough decision was put on us, be Gay, or be Christian. It’s quite something that some of us are still Christians.
On the other hand, though some in our community are far from achieving this:
Being Gay in a straight man’s world has made us know what it is like to live outside the margins. Having been exposed to hate we now know how precious love is. With every other form of discrimination, we understand inclusion. Our hearts are tender towards every other group that may be called a minority. We are familiar with pain, shame, and rejection. For this reason, we work to show empathy and offer any help to those who could be at that stage in their lives. To the outsider, we seek to let them in, and to those wallowing in hopelessness, we offer them our hope stories. And this is just beautiful!
Being Gay in a straight man’s world has sharpened us to thrive where we were set for extinction. We have trail-blazed paths that were dangerous and came out safe. We have learned to appreciate our uniqueness and celebrate it, even if it is in small ways. Thankfully, this has made us excel in areas that we never thought we would. For tenacity, steadfastness and resilience have slowly become part of our fabric. It shocks us at times to be defined as flourishing, but we are!
Being Gay in a straight man’s world has deepened our faith in God. We have learned how to communicate with him in loud cries and deep groans. Since we wanted to know the truth about us, we dug deep into his TRUTH the more. We thus were able to see where our story fits in the larger gospel story. The luxury of being a Christian because everybody was we could not afford. So we had to go deep into our faith. And it was just beautiful to know God, to experience His love on us, and to see him working in our lives. We know how every sin is a barrier to a meaningful intimacy with Christ. We also know how Christ has/and continues to save us. We understand how unbelief astounds Christ and how faith works to please him. We are alert not to count our orientation nor anything else about us to be the best thing about us, Christ is. And we are willing to take him at his word, in FAITH. What a Prince of peace, wonderful counselor, Mighty God, and Everlasting father he is!
Being Gay in a straight man’s world has taught us on the beauty of friendship, the blesedness of marriage and the gift of Celibacy Though some in our family have believed that God blesses same-sex marriages, others have not. And I belong in those who do not. My option has thus been left to enjoy the beauty of friendships. And this has been awesome, you know in the world I live in, friendships are taken at times lightly and can be formed and broken at any time. But for me it has not been it, friendships are the bonds that have catalyzed my growth,spices that have flavored my life. I have learned to call strangers brothers for they are. At the same time, we have understood the greater good of God for us in opposite sex marriage. For this reason, we are willing to receive it as God’s gift if he wills to offer it to us and steward it in his way; a metaphor for his union with the church. On the other hand, even if it’s in small ways, we have been able to burst the bubble of romance that tells us we have to be romantically engaged to be fully human, or to be fully Christian. We are slowly learning of Celibacy and willing to live it if that’s God’s will for our life. For our good and for his glory.
I would have wished to say more, but I will pause here for now. To the straight man, I speak this not from a place of hate but so as to let you into a world of being different, one that maybe you have never experienced especially in regard to an aspect that is very central to your life. All we hope for is that we shall be seen and loved. So open your doors and let’s talk, for we seek your good too.