This is the second part of a three-part series I was asked to write. Moving to Seattle was the best move I ever made. It separated me from everyone and everything I knew. It gave me time to realize my own values. In my first apartment in Seattle, live a couple of gay men, we called Gay Clay and Al. Their relationship was unclear to me, but ultimately it did not matter. I became very close to them. Over time they had taken in many stray men in need of housing. I considered them both my friends. A few years before I met them, I would not have had anything to do with them.
I was overly protective of my children when they were young. I tried to shield them from homosexuality on TV, the movies or in public. I tried to make it non-existent in our lives. Up until my husband and I separated, I was very cautious of who my children were exposed to.
After my husband left, I started going to the local bars. I became friends with many people who I would never have had any type of contact with before. I became very good friends with a bartender named Felicia. Over the years my co-workers would make accusations about how she was gay. This was strange to me. We went out and picked up men all the time. We had fun and often brought men home from the bars. One night we came home, just us. She suggested we have sex. It was a casual question. One that I was totally unprepared for. I informed her that I was not at all interested. She asked if I was even curious, I told her due to my religious upbringing, there were somethings that just would never happen. She went off to bed, accepting that. I had grown up believing that homosexuals had an agenda. They would stop at nothing to get straight people to be at least interested in gay sex. I was relieved to find that this was quite far from the truth.
I wavered back and forth in religion and churches. It was so ingrained in my mind, that I kept trying to be someone I was not. fighting my rebellious side and trying to conform has always been my worst battle. It digs deep into your self-worth, knowing that you will never quite be good enough. For years I would go to church and stop going, find a new church and stop going again. I was searching, for something that I could never find in a church.
Several years after meeting Felicia, I met the beautiful black man. His name was Jerome. I first saw him at church holding a baby and praising God. I thought he was a woman at first. His features were quite effeminate. I later learned he was married and the beautiful child was his and hers. She was a beautiful hispanic woman. Over time I became quite good friends with them. I would hang out with Jerome for hours. He revealed to me that not only was he gay but he had been raped by an uncle when he was 10. In my religious upbringing, being raped was a cause of homosexuality. For women it bred distrust and fear of men, for men, well if you enjoyed it, maybe it was the attention. It was never very clear why, but it definitely was a major cause of homosexuality. In my mind this was what had happened to Jerome. He lived in with a single mother, and this uncle was the only male role model he had.
Jerome confided in me that he had been fighting his homosexuality from the time he was little, well before the rape. This nullified the premise that the rape was the cause. He also confided to me that he fought his homosexuality every single hour of every single day. What? How can this be, homosexuality is a choice, right? Hearing him discuss how much he hated himself and how beat down he was over his “affliction”, my heart broke. How could such a beautiful person be told his whole life how evil he was, how ugly his sin is? Having this realization was probably the most influential of my life.
I came to realize that homosexuality is not a choice. You are born this way, acting on it is a choice yes. How can anyone who upholds God’s word condemn people for who they love? I began to question many of these facts. It is heartbreaking to realize that so many children are pushed into suicide due to low self-esteem and extreme bullying. Why does no one from a pulpit stand up and condemn those that bully? These questions tormented my soul for years, to the point that I could no longer consider myself a Christian. There were other factors at play in this as well, but homosexuality as a sin was huge for me.
Love is love, right? It seems that this is not so in Church Doctrine. So many stand up and claim God’s love and then condemn with God’s righteousness. It seems to me that if God is a loving being then he would love all people, unconditionally. I am so happy that I learned these things when I did. I would have missed out on some of the greatest friendships I have ever known. I also would have missed out on the greatest relationship of my life, with a partner who is truly the love of my life. Had I not come to terms with my own unfounded prejudices before I met him, I might never have taken a chance with him. I might have thrown away the love of my life and never even known it. For me the greatest gift is love. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Truly the only words from the Bible that I want to emulate.