Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Christian Closet: A Gay Southern Baptist

A Gay Southern Baptist


I wanted to preface this post with my coming out experience and what that’s been like for me. I’m a guy and I’ve found guys attractive since I was just ten or so years old. It wasn’t until my sophomore year at university where I started to actually come to terms with it. I never planned on coming out, actually, I just opened up to my mom via Facebook, just about a year and a half ago and my life changed quite a bit! I really want to blog post to be a discussion of my experiences as a gay Southern Baptist, an amalgam of two seemingly juxtaposed cultures.


"Gay Christians exist wedged between the LGBT and Christian communities, which can oftentimes prove frustrating or alienating."

Gay Christians exist wedged between the LGBT and Christian communities, which can oftentimes prove frustrating or alienating. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on the legalization of same-sex marriage, the rift has only widened, forcing me into a limbo where I’m expected to choose between my faith and my sexual orientation, considered a traitor to one over the other. That being said, I’ve been unnaturally lucky in having a father who grew up in Key West, one of the country’s most LGBT-friendly cities, and a socially progressive mother, who have been incredibly supportive since I first came out in 2014.



Moreover, being gay and Christian is far different from just being gay or just being Christian. Evangelical Christians tend to value monogamy and celibacy before marriage. In American culture, it’s normal for same-sex relationships—at least between males—to be hyper-sexualized, while polyamory is commonplace. Add the immense pressure Christians face to date other Christians, all while already facing negative stigma for defying Christianity by turning to homosexuality in the first place, and frustrations amass.


"Despite immense progress for gay rights in the past decade, anti-LGBT rhetoric is still omnipresent in the church.... my pastor has repeatedly preached about how the LGBT community is not welcome."

Yet despite immense progress for gay rights in the past decade, anti-LGBT rhetoric is still omnipresent in the church. My home church modified its bylaws to refuse service to same-sex couples, while my pastor has repeatedly preached about how the LGBT community is not welcome (all while urging us as a congregation to love them). I know of three lesbian youth in my church who have all left because the church has let them down. Regardless of one’s beliefs, this anti-LGBT demagogue is toxic; at their most vulnerable, the church refused to help them and they’ve fallen away from God as a result. Even at my progressive university, church members have actually urged me to live as if I were straight—the stories of gay-turned-straight Rosaria Butterfield and Alan Chambers come to mind—or, a step in the right direction, to instead commit to celibacy.

In order to navigate these challenges, I’ve had to refrain from coming out to a lot of my Christian friends, as have many LGBT Christians. My boyfriend, for example, still hasn’t come out to his parents for fear of the consequences. Oftentimes, the approach I’ve had to take is begrudgingly lying; not knowing how coworkers or peers feel about LGBT issues has habitually forced me to lie for fear of any potential repercussions. When I first came out I was an emotional wreck and had a sleepless night; at work the next day, I feared how coworkers would react and simply had to brush it off and halfheartedly press on.

"I’ve had to refrain from coming out to a lot of my Christian friends.... not knowing how coworkers or peers feel about LGBT issues has habitually forced me to lie for fear of any potential repercussions."

On a much brighter note, this subculture has offered me a place of solace. There are organizations premised around creating a community of LGBT Christians, while my immediate family and a large number of my friends, both religious and areligious, are incredibly supportive. While a large numbers of my friends at my church don’t condone same-sex relationships, I have received unbelievable support from my church family in navigating some of the woes of being a gay Christian; the sheer vulnerability of coming out has opened up new levels of trust between my close friends and me and a lot of friends have asked to meet my boyfriend.

I’ve learned so much since coming out a year and a half ago. Being gay has taught me just how dynamic the Bible is in the cultural zeitgeist. Seeing others putting aside their preconceived notions about homosexuality has shown me just a glimpse of the love Christ has for us and what fellowship truly looks like. I oftentimes wish I weren’t gay, but I’m utterly thankful for what God has graced me with because of it.

"Seeing others putting aside their preconceived notions about homosexuality has shown me just a glimpse of the love Christ has for us and what fellowship truly looks like."

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you have that support from your family and friends—as other stories in this series have showed, that is a gift that not everyone receives. I'm also touched by the uncertainty that you've talked about in your post. It sounds like in your relationships with other Christians, coworkers, etcetera, it's hard to make the call about whether to tell them that you're gay or not. If they're cool about it, fine, but if they aren't... the lecturing and criticism sounds like a route to somewhat lonely relationships. :/ Thanks so much for sharing your story with us!

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