I thought I would repost this old blog, about my experience with having a friend seek my support in them going from gay to saved, since there has been an advent of memes circulating with people going from gay/transgender to saved/heterosexual.
Most people who are secure with their sexuality don’t typically go around pondering the spectrum of sexuality for others. We seek to accept our friends for who they genuinely are and merrily move on from there. However a few nights ago I caught an episode of True Life that reminded me of how uncomfortable it is to really ponder the implications of someone that you respects sexuality. True Life:I’m No Longer Gay, profiled two young people who no longer identified with their former gay lifestyles. Oddly enough this seems to be a mythical episode as I can’t locate it anywhere on the MTV True Life website. I quickly filed the episode away, though it did raise an eyebrow and one not so pleasant memory of my own less than stellar reaction to a friend. I didn’t want to dwell on bad memories.
A while ago VerySmartBrothas did a post about how we potentially view the sexual spectrum and the conundrums we can stir up when deciding what truths to accept. Clutch Magazine had an article questioning the ability to pray away the gay, while everyone else dug up the deep pile of sh*t that is Michelle Bachmann’s husband’s family business of “reforming” homosexuals. Clicking through all these links on the ability to retract ones ‘gayness’, I finally landed on an article in the New York Times: My Ex-Gay Friend, where one journalist explores the myriad of feelings and theoretical conflicts he encounters as he visits with an old friend who went from being a very outspoken gay man and activist for gay rights to a staunch right-wing conservative Christian and heterosexual. The journalist, who is himself a gay man relates all the questions and doubts he had with regards to his friends sexuality throughout the story. All this discussion of turning from homosexual to heterosexual or as some would tell it to “return to” heterosexual, aptly brought back my own weird and confused encounter with an “ex gay” friend.
Unlike the NYTimes writer, I am a heterosexual woman who largely has no understanding of what it means to be a gay man or even more so a gay Black man. And I was blind sided with this discussion that a friend entrusted to me, because he genuinely cared about my reaction and opinion. Living with no regrets, this is one situations where I borderline regret my reaction but I don’t know that I could have handled it any differently.
Nick is a friend who I respected, an extremely beautiful person inside and out, I had known since my early days of college, where we all (thought we) knew he was gay but Nick was still vocally living as a heterosexual. We lost touch for a few years and when Nick popped up in my city he was, in my opinion, fully immersed in the gay lifestyle. The man about town, people were drawn to him and I spent a whole summer being the consummate fruit fly and prancing from one gay bar to another. Then he left town to pursue his career dreams back home, and two years later I finally made it out to visit him. Over margaritas Nick drops it to me, he is saved and has fully returned to the church; he wants to date and marry a woman to complete his good Christian lifestyle. Now here’s where my brain froze…
There’s a blurry of implications that arise when addressing this situation from the perspective of the Black community. We don’t much discuss the curious case of Donnie McClurkin as we sing along. But as a community that has churches located on every corner and Sunday Facebook feeds that often turn into a news roll of Bible scriptures, the appeal of a spiritual identity is deeply inculcated. Even more so the taboo of how to deal with homosexuality in our community is often dealt with curt acceptance until it steps in your living room. Events like the passing of gay marriage, shed a light on the thin curtain and quickly reveal the many levels of unacceptable, as we stand by and turn a blind eye.
I’m a Christian by faith, and I do believe in the power of God. But believing that a man can go from homosexual to heterosexual, and not in the I’m just going to deny my sexual urges way but the I’m legit changing my sexual desires way, I couldn’t wrap my head around. How do I offer my support? Do I pat him on his back and wish and him well? The real quandary for me was that I appreciated his spirituality and belief in God, but I really wanted to tell him that maybe he should just sin one more time and at least test out the waters of the padussy before he commits to it in holy sanctimony. You see, in his committing himself to God and being saved, stepping away from the gay lifestyle also meant stepping away from sex before marriage, which is often the case in these situations. I remember as child my mother pointing out a man in our Kingdom Hall (my parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses) and explaining that he “use to be gay” but he got baptized and shed that former life and any sexual life. Because as my mother put it, exploring any type of sexual activity would open back up his homosexual desires. For whatever reason, that always stuck with me, so when talking to Nick I was stuck somewhere between yes I believe in the power of God, “wait do you know the gushy gushy is a completely, all around different sensation?”, thinking how Nick could potentially emotionally devastate a woman by bringing her on this ride, and like how do I support something that part of me honestly feels is a set up for failure and frustration <—- is that a contradiction to my faith in God? I blurted all these sentiments out in an unequivocally confused blurry of oscillating statements, because the essence of this whole situation is that it wasn’t about me and my faiths or beliefs but that really I felt superiorly sorry for my friend. Nick had a hard road of hope ahead of him, and I couldn’t find the words of true support or a place to lay my hand in acceptance.
And yes here is the double standard generalization, I’ve had a staunch lesbian friend, reemerge in a committed heterosexual relationship and I barely batted an eyelash. While I questioned it, I shrugged it off believing that woman have more fluidity in their sexual orientation and they weren’t denying the fact that they could and would go back for a dip when they choose to. However coming from a man wrapped in a bow of religion it was much harder to accept.
Nick didn’t want validation from me but support and in that conversation my honesty got the best of me. It was a paradox of confusion, faith and beliefs. Revisiting that conversation and reading the encounter of the NYTimes writer makes my mind no more clear than it was on that murky evening. We haven’t spoken much since that evening and I guess this is my cowardice aspect where I copped it with “I don’t know what to tell you”, when he wanted to know that I as a Black woman could accept him. Its when someone respects your opinion enough to inquire and you disappointingly have nothing to offer.
In a perfect world Nick will prove all my doubts to be silly trifles and prevail in whatever lifestyle it is that he choices. I just hope that that choice doesn’t leave him emotionally empty or isolated. Doesn’t have him beating himself up over his identity or forcing him to live a life that lacks fulfillment.