For over 22 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 LGBTQ+ 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 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 for stopping religious public policy or toxic theology that threatens us with abuse, oppression, and inequality. So believe whatever you want to believe, 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 taken for granted 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! The first time I was “out” in the ”80s…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. 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 the ex-gay/conversion ministry world, being gay is reduced to some lewd, hedonistic, sexual ickiness that conservatives loathe, but many fantasize about. They ignore that party/group/public sex is as much a part of the heterosexual world (if not more so) than the LGBTQ+ 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 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 dull. Our wild in crazy events consists of pasta night while watching RuPaul’s Drag Race with our daughter.
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. 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 marrying Dan and becoming a Bonus Dad to his wonderful 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 serve the good now.