Okay, I’ll own up to it. I had a boyfriend in high school. We dated for six years, but as a good Christian girl, I would never go “all the way” with him. Of course, we fooled around like all high school kids do—but we never, y’know—“did it.”
I didn’t want to tell him that though I loved him dearly and he was my best friend, that his … thingy … totally disgusted me. (That purity vow was a godsend!) I tried my best to be straight. I had the best of training. My parents were both straight. My brothers and sisters were all straight. It wasn’t until adulthood that I found out I had a lesbian cousin. As far as I knew, I came completely from straight stock. I simply had to be straight, right?
Well, not so much. At the age of 16, I uttered those dreaded words, “I am a lesbian.” The face before me went white with shock at the revelation. The face was my own, staring back at me from the mirror. I’ve always hated that word, “lesbian.” It’s a fine word for those hailing from the isle of Lesbos. Don’t get me wrong. I hear they’re lovely people. But, for a woman who loves other women—the word sounded so … clinical. I’ve always preferred the word “dyke.” There’s something that is both very strong and comforting about the word for me.
I didn’t become a dyke though until I was 18. I ditched the boyfriend a year before, spending just one more year making that last ditch effort to live into the straightness that was handed down through my ancestors. He promised that “going all the way” with him would cure me. I knew it would simply erase all doubt—just as sleeping with my first girlfriend did.
I was officially “ex-straight.”
Those on the other side of the fence believe we who have embraced our ex-straightness can come back over the fence and become “ex-gay.” The fabled “Love Won Out” conference in Anchorage, Alaska that was promoted by Sarah Palin’s Wasilla church has come and gone—and the small percentage of gay folks in Alaska remain gay despite the urging to “pray away the gay.” According to a report in the Anchorage Press the gays didn’t flock to the event:
Few, if any, of the attendees offering their “amen’s” seem to be people struggling with same-sex attraction. These churchgoing folks are having their belief that overcoming homosexuality is a choice one can make successfully reinforced.
There were many outside protesting the event, however:
Outside of Love Won Out this past Saturday morning, on the opposite corner from the church at Abbott Road and Lake Otis Drive, a group of a dozen or so protestors are waving rainbow flags and homemade signs with slogans like “God is not a bigot;” “My gay son is fine just the way God made him;” “God [hearts] queers;” and “God loves me just the way he made me.”
Inside the event, participants like Joe Dallas were busy reinforcing stereotypes about gay people:
Dallas named inborn characteristics that he says make one susceptible to homosexuality—sensitivity, creativity, compliance, preference for intellectual pursuits over athletics—and spoke of a “decision” homosexuals make to make their orientation and behavior part of their identity.
So, according to Dallas, only unfeeling, uncreative, stupid jocks and bullies grow up to be straight. Wow, with those kinds of perks, how could I have ever made the decision to be gay? It all seems so clear to me now that I have wasted my life being sensitive, creative and intellectual. Oh, wait—I do like softball. But, then Dallas is really concerned with what makes men gay, not women. Because everyone knows that in straight culture two men are gross but two women are totally hot. Just check out any few minutes of straight porn and you’ll know that’s the gospel.
However, Dallas’ anecdotal evidence of the causes of homosexuality are blown to bits by the appearance of Wayne Besen—the founder of Truth Wins Out—an organization dedicated to fighting the lies of “ex-gay ministries.” Besen, who went to Anchorage to join the protestors, is a jock.
Besen came out to his parents Neil and Sydney in 1988, when he was 18-years-old—captain of the high school basketball team, with a girlfriend. His folks were upset; his father asked if he still liked sports.
The sad thing about this whole back and forth about being “ex-gay” or “ex-straight” is the ridiculous notion that sexuality can be put into black and white categories. Alfred Kinsey’s scale back in the 1940s should have put this issue to rest. We all fall somewhere along the spectrum on sexuality. I can see a good looking man and feel an attraction to him just as I can be attracted to a woman. However, I connect most strongly, physically, spiritually and intellectually, with women. I’m closer to the “completely homosexual” side of Kinsey’s scale.
Those who say they have become “ex-gay” may be people somewhere closer to the middle of the spectrum where they are truly bisexual and they’ve chosen to act on their heterosexuality instead of pursuing the same sex.
Where the “ex-gay” camp goes wrong is to make this an issue of morality and brand sexual orientation as a “sin.” The Bible has no concept of sexual orientation and the word “homosexual” didn’t enter the lexicon until the late 1800s. The Bible’s prescription for correct sexual morality has nothing to do with the genital configuration of the couple and everything to do with love. We’re told in 1 John 4:7-12 that wherever love is, God is. Gay and lesbian relationships based on love are never condemned in the Bible. The Bible calls us to live responsibly into our sexuality, whether it’s hetero or homo.
I guess, in the end, love does truly win out—though perhaps not in the way “ex-gay” proponents would like.