An open letter to LGBT Christians about relationships and dreams...
I was nine when I realized I was gay. Around the same time, I hit puberty and I felt the first inklings of my call to ministry. Talk about a trip, especially for someone who wasn't even a teenager yet. Almost immediately I started wondering what the future would hold for me...
Did this mean that I wouldn't have a wife? What about kids? Could I still be a father? Would I fall in love? Could someone fall in love with me? Would I spend the rest of my life alone?
Growing up in a conservative denomination, I realized rather quickly that "people like me" weren't supposed to have relationships. We weren't supposed to fall in love, and if we did, it wasn't supposed to be with the gender that really attracted us. If you're a man, you're supposed to marry a woman, and vice versa.
A relationship between a man and a man was wrong, broken, dirty and disgusting
Two women together is just abnormal, unnatural, inconceivable
Yet for me, though I spent the time between nine and nineteen trying to have relationships with girls, deep down I knew such attempts were futile, and with every failed relationship, I felt as if God's love for me, God's pride in me was faltering, disappearing into the great nothingness. Because of who I am, because of who I wanted to love, I was being led to believe that God loved me less, that my faults, my sins were worse, more vile, than those of my peers. Because my heart desperately wanted a husband, God looked down on me with shame and disappointment.
Today I'm married. His name is Frankie. We have two cats, the closest to children we're willing to come right now. We have an apartment in Chicago. A back deck where I attempt every summer to grow herbs and simple flowers (attempt being the key word here). We have joint bank accounts and mutual debt and investments. We watch Doctor Who together, and he tolerates when I devour all six seasons of LOST in less than two weeks.
You know what? Some days I wake up and ask myself if this is all real
I grew up being told that no same-sex relationship is stable or healthy. None of them every really last. Even if they do, they're a poor substitute for God's original plan of heterosexual relationships. And yet here I am almost four years later. Sure, we have our rough moments, but they're the same rough moments that I've seen straight couples face.
Last summer, for our honeymoon, we went to New York to spend a week in the city. One night, waiting in line at TKTS for some cheap seats, we ran into another gay couple. Frankie and I were laughing, picking on each other as usual, being silly. These two guys, Steven and Alex, a Jewish-Columbian couple from Long Island, started talking to us. Frankie went into introvert mode (like he does... it's cute), and I opened up. They were there celebrating their 23rd anniversary. We ended up not only having dinner together at a nearby Turkish restaurant, but we also saw the same show.
That night, everything I had been taught began to crumble. All my assumptions and preconceived notions about same-sex relationships started to shatter. That night, maybe for the first time since I met Frankie, I thought to myself
"We really have a chance here."
Ask him. He'll tell you the same thing.
We were created for relationship. It's in our blood, our bones, our DNA. It's intrinsic to who we are we God's creation. And I'm not talking false, superficial, culturally dictated relationships where you do what is "right" and "good" by the standards of others. I'm talking life-giving, abundant relationships, romantic and platonic. Any relationship that forms out of love has the potential to bring life. This is my hope for you, that you find this kind of love.
In my circle of friends, of LGBT people of faith, Christian faith in particular, there is a divide between those who believe that same-sex physical intimacy is God-honoring, and those who believe that sex of any sort, in order to be holy and right, should be restricted to the heterosexual marriage bed. While I can tell you about my own conclusions, my own wrestling with this particular component of relationship, I cannot decide for you what is right and what is not. No one can make that decision for you. But there are plenty of people out there willing to walk the path with you, the journey necessary for coming to your own conclusions.
While my hope is that you find the love you both want and need, my bigger point is this: you are loved, right where you are, just as you are. No conditions. No expectations. You are loved by the One who made you, a love that supersedes time and history, culture, label, sexual attraction. You are loved because you are known.
I don't know you. I don't know what your life has been like, what kind of pain and hardship you've experienced thus far. I don't know if you're out or if you're closeted. I don't know if you've decided that you want a mate, or if you think singleness and celibacy are right for you. I don't know if you've learned to love yourself, or if you're in a place of struggling with self-hatred.
I know this: I know God loves you. I know I love you
There is no rush for you to make any decisions, to come to any solid conclusions. I don't know what you've been taught or led to believe, and while I hope that your lessons so far have affirmed how amazing, wonderful, and beautiful you are, I know there's a chance that this is not the case, and I'm sorry for that. I hope you find what you're looking for, what you need, what you long for. In the meantime, you are not alone. You are loved. As I say to Frankie, "Forever and always, until the wheels fall off."