I am a woman on a journey. I am making my own acquaintance after many years of trying to be many things I am not.
I grew up in a conservative, fundamentalist Christian family. Most of my education came from small Christian schools and church. My education about sexuality, and homosexuality in particular, came from the various Focus on the Family books and publications by the American Family Association. Understandably, I was not able to accept the attractions I had for women.
Following high school and a year of junior college, I attended one year of an intensive discipleship training school where our only subjects were God and the Bible and how to live in a way that would please God and bring others to Christ (if you are familiar with YWAM, this school was like a one-year-long YWAM DTS school). This was a time of great confusion for me as the school was quite cultish, but reinforced everything I had grown up with. However, I couldn't continue to maintain the facade needed to live this life, and by the end of the year I looked great on the outside, but inside I was a mess.
It was when I graduated and left this college to attend the University of California at Santa Cruz (go banana slugs!) that I began to be able to face the truth about my life. In 1994, three years after my graduation from the one-year Bible college, I came out of the closet with all that "coming out" entails. Predictably, my family was upset. They did not kick me out (I wasn't living at home anyway), nor did they stop talking to me. But they were very upset, very unsupportive, and quite understandably given their religious framework, they grieved this news. In their grief I felt rejected. I was also treated badly by most of my remaining Christian friends.
In 1998, because I believed the lies of the ex-gay movement that said, "Change is Possible!" I moved to Denver, CO to take part in an Exodus-affiliated ex-gay ministry. I believed the half-truths that were told because I wanted to find a way to reconcile faith with my sexuality. I mistakenly thought the only way to do that was to work to change my orientation.
After five years of ex-gay ministries (including Exodus and Living Waters), deliverence (what some might call exorcisms), and reparative therapy, I began to realize that in spite of many other positive changes, my orientation had not changed. It was easy to ignore this fact because on the surface, so many things looked "ex-gay." I'd healed from significant childhood abuse. I discovered my feminine side. I became comfortable in my own skin. But I was still attracted to women. And finally I had to face this truth.
That's when I started realizing that being an ex-gay does not mean a change in orientation, but a change in behavior. The term "ex-gay" does not mean that someone becomes heterosexual. It just means that the person has stopped behaviors associated with homosexuality. I never remembered reading that in all the ex-gay advertisements!
In 2003 when I could no longer live with the lies, I started to slowly peek my head back out of the closet. Recently, I have started to speak my truth about the ex-gay movement and counter the lies it tells. It's scary, but at the same time, completely necessary--for me, and for others.
I am rising up from the ashes. I am beautiful. I am who I am.
hi and welcome to the blogosphere!ReplyDelete
I somehow stumbled into your blog. I am a follower of Christ and a former YWAM'er. For most of my Christian life I have believed that you cannot be gay and follow Christ. But somewhere along the way that belief got shaken. I no longer hold that opinion. In fact, I wonder if it is not as huge an issue to God as it is to American Christians.
In any case, I am now open to hearing what other people have to say. I'm listening for the first time to what gay men and women of faith have to share about their lives.
Gay, straight, whatever, God love you and I hope you keep rising from the ashes.
As for "is change possible"? I don'tknow, though defining change is up for grabs, isn't it?
Bless you. I might pop by again sometime............Pam
Thanks, Pam! I'm glad you stumbled over here. And thanks for the welcome :)ReplyDelete
I am glad to read of your change of opinion on the gay & Christian issue. I really do agree with you - I think it probably is not a huge issue in the Spiritual realm of things.
It says a lot that you are open to hearing different views on this topic. I'd like to ask what changed your opinion (if you wander back this way and see this question)?
I agree with your assessment of the "change is possible" thing - who really knows? I would never be one to say that it's never, ever remotely possible. I just think it's incredibly rare and not something that most people will ever achieve - nor do I think it's necessary to try.
Thanks for popping in, and feel free to swing by again. I enjoyed reading some of your blog (my sister and two of my best friends worked at Mother's Choice - an orphanage - in Hong Kong)!
While not Christian myself anymore, I do consider myself spiritual, not to mention a gay woman. And after a lifetime thinking about it, I really can't see that God/the Creator is too bent out of shape about the details regarding what we do with our genitals. I mean, providing that what we do is with consentual adults of our own species. The sexuality issue seems to be a very human preoccupation.ReplyDelete
Anyway, I wish you strength and joy and insight on your journey. Keep going!
Congratulations on your realization that you are who you are, a wonderful you. Although I'm not gay, many years ago I was a "born again Christian" and viewed lesbians and homosexuals as "sinners". Believe me, I have changed. I got fed up with those hypocritical sanctimonious religious fanatics. Glad you came out of the closet. I hope those self-righteous Christian extremists come out of theirs.ReplyDelete
Anne, thank you. To clarify, I do not consider myself Christian right now (in the strictest sense), but most of my friends actually are, and I am involved on a gay Christian site. I think I am spiritual, though, like you. Just can't say I'm a Christian.ReplyDelete
No matter what anyone's particular religion is, I really always want to make sure people know that they don't have to divorce their spirituality from who they are as a person (like I thought I had to do when I came out).
Anyway, thanks for your encouraging words! :)
Edwin, thanks for your comment as well. It's interesting your thought about the "closets" that the self-righteous are in. Interesting, as it is also a prison. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Like a Phoenix from the fire! Wow, lovely photo of you, so honest, warm and real.ReplyDelete
I stand (well actually sit) amazed at the process you've been through. May your story touch many lives and may you grow and learn more and more.
Thanks for summarising your journey to this point in time.
I share a few of your steps having spent eight years involved with 'ex-gay' type ministries in the UK. Now I'm also in the ex-ex-gay category and finally getting out of the closet. I also have had a shift in faith away from my evangelical-Christian past, though agree that it is still perfectly possible to be gay and Christian.
I look forward to your future posts and hope that in getting your message out there, others will be saved from being misled by these 'ex-gay ministries'.
Best wishes on the journey ahead.
Peterson. Thanks. :) Your continued support means a great deal to me.ReplyDelete
Regarding the hope that others will be saved from having to undergo this same journey - Yes! Here's to hope!
I am so glad I found your blog...our stories are similar. I look forward to reading more.ReplyDelete
It's a long difficult journey but one I am walking as well.
Keep writing -- I'll keep reading,
congratulations on accepting yourself! maybe change is "possible,"--especially if you're already bisexual--but the real question is, Why does the majority always demand that the minority do all the changing?ReplyDelete
urbancatwoman and startha mewart (with hilarious revolting sofas)...thanks for your kind comments and for stopping by!ReplyDelete
And I agree...why do we as people often insist that everyone must be "like us"?
I relate to most of your journey.I was born again, went to Y.W.A.M. in Australia, took a few classes from LIVING WATERS,....and despite my fervent belief in Jesus, my homosexuality never changed...I had a crisis and I no longer go to church or necessarily believe the bible as inerrant. No,"God" does not heal Bi or homosexuality, point finale. you better believe I am angry and offended at what Christianity teaches about this very subject. The church has blood on its hands.ReplyDelete
Hi. I hope you don't mind, and if you do, I can change it, but I linked this post on my blog.ReplyDelete
I really enjoy reading your on-going story!
Shalom to you,ReplyDelete
I am Jennifer Loewenthal. And there is a woman that wounded my soul deeply who is in Living Waters/Desert Stream. Reading of your courage and integrity warmed my Spirit and left an imprint of peace upon my heart. Thank you.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.ReplyDelete
I am grateful for your blog. I'm a 46-year-old Catholic woman who has been striving to accept myself as a gay woman for years. I still have a hard time with the word lesbian. While I haven't gone through ex-gay therapy, I have endured much self-hatred from feeling like somehow I'm not as good as my heterosexual siblings. It is tough. I still pray for acceptance. I am out only to a few close friends though I'm pretty sure my mom knows I'm gay. My mom talks about gay people like they are abnormal so I know what she'd think if I came out to her. It's tough because I feel like a disappointment. It's nice to know that others have been down a similar path. In time, God will show me the way. For now, I am working on my recovery (alcohol, food and sex addiction) issues and career. I know that in God's time, the right time to come out will appear. And, I'll meet my future mate. Thanks again for the blog.ReplyDelete
Hi. I saw the article in Glamour. I'd been wondering if an ex-gay camp would be worth a shot, and your words really helped me come to peace with not going. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Going to read the rest of the posts now.
It would be easy to be bitter about what happened to you but instead, you have turned it into a positive affirmation of who you are and you are helping others to do the same. I hope you can remember that when fears and regrets visit. I think you are an awesome soul.ReplyDelete
Hello, I am Jennifer Loewenthal and have been tied with comments from Chris Bakke that belong to her:) If you type my name into yahoo, my name is linked to her comments. I find this to be misleading. Any way to fix that?ReplyDelete
In Christ, Jen
Jen, I don't have an address to reply to you...so I will post a comment here.ReplyDelete
The only reason your name is "linked" to my blog is that you left a comment on this entry (see anonymous comment left above on October 10, 2006) and you used your first and last name. So when you search on a search engine with your first and last name, it will reference this blog entry, not because of anything I wrote, but because of a comment you left.
I will leave this up for a bit but then can delete all your comments. However, they will still be archived on the internet...unfortunately, I don't control that. :)
I found your article in Glamour recently and was glad you stepped forward to share it. I accepted Christ as a Freshman in High School and discovered within 10 years that I was suppressing my "real" self, my authentic self, my gay self. I lead a 'secret' gay life with another woman shortly after college for 7 years before she decided to marry a man. I went thru very similiar avenues to "no longer be gay" since that is the only thinking there is within the context of the Evangelical Christian Church. I spent the next 15 years lying to myself and trying to 'renounce my sin'. I went thru Living Waters, received numerous prayers and did all the "things" asked of me to get 'healed'. Recently I read Mel White's book: Stranger At The Gate and discovered after all these years that GOD is really OKAY with who HE created me to be. I'm now in my 50's and beginning to take steps to walk in the freedom, before the Lord, that He created in me a good thing... He is, afterall, the one in charge. It's much harder at this age 'coming out' because it involved a lot of secrecy, lying and deceit - but I'd rather be who HE created than continuing to lie. My only question to you would be how do you find local churches that accept "us" so that we too can continue to worship and go to church and be an asset to God's community?
Thanks again for sharing your story.
I wish you much luck in your journey, and I'm sorry for your loss. My prayers are with you at this time.ReplyDelete
I just stumbled across your blog, and I must say, wow! This is an extremely inspiring and amazing post! Thankfully, I have not had experience with the ex-gay movement, but your story both inspired and interested me. I am thrilled that someone is speaking up against what people like Exodus International are doing! I applaud your strength! You are truly helping other generations by sharing your story.ReplyDelete
The "loving" ex-gay movement should be revealed for what it is- fruitless and destructive.