Did God Make Me This Way?
This is a tough blog for me to write—probably the hardest I’ve had to write yet. This blog may be a tough one for you to read. Please enter with an open mind and heart and take note of the feelings that come up in you as you read it. This is perhaps the most difficult subject that both the LGBTQ+ and some religious communities need to work through. Peaceful coexistence.
I feel the need to start this conversation by saying “not all Christians” or “not all Mormons” fit this mold. In fact, there are a lot of folks who get the messages of peace and tolerance right. In the wise words of the TikTok audio byte, they “understood the assignment.” However, I cannot ignore the fact that in nearly all instances of hate and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community and their allies in the US, there is one thing that is used as justification—the Bible.
It’s the protestors at Pride events who scream poorly-translated scriptures through their bullhorns at our families. It’s the Christian-based homeschooling groups that require a “Statement of Faith” that denounces anyone who is not heterosexual or living according to what their birth certificate assigned them. It’s the legislators that propose bills and pass laws that limit LGBTQ+ freedom to be treated equally by paramedics and at school, while promoting the legislation on the grounds of “religious freedom.” It’s the family and friends who say they love you but also say that your loving, healthy, consensual adult relationship is a sin.
I wish we could all read Colby Martin’s UnClobbered and then hug and move on.
The Choice to Be Gay
I remember my second date with my soul-human, Jen. We were cruising around the Pennsylvanian countryside in her Subaru (obviously) when at some point in the conversation she said, “Nobody would choose to be gay.”
My heart stopped. Here I was soaking up the lightness I felt from my newly-out bliss after having admitted that I was a lesbian in therapy at age 38. She had been living that way since her teenage years. We both knew we didn’t choose our attraction. But I did feel that I chose to live that truth after 20 years in a heterosexual relationship.
I had tried to be straight my whole life. I thought doing so would make everyone else happy. I thought if I lived by those societal rules and hid from the whispered (and not so whispered) beliefs that there was something wrong with me, that I could be happy because I was doing things the right way.
Living outside of integrity with who you are is never the “right” way to live.*
Jen was right. Would any person choose to be gay if it was really an option? Life is harder for the LGBTQ+. People are unkind. So let us all suspend for a moment the belief that people choose this life and explore the thought that maybe they are living exactly as they were created to be.
Did God Make Me This Way?
I always kind of chuckle when someone self-assuredly states that being gay is a choice. They claim gays do so because it’s trendy, or because we’re being rebellious or misguided, or because we just haven’t found the right hetero partner yet. It’s so interesting that queer people most often maintain this rebellious streak or trend for decades.
When they say that being LGBTQ+ goes against biology, it makes me think of the fact that there are many non-human species on this planet that have been found to demonstrate same-sex coupling or have the ability to change their identification as male or female. Wikipedia says it's approximately 450 species. Yale says over 1,500 species. Personally, I think having even one species besides humans that demonstrates this behavior calls into question the theory that queerness is something unnatural.
But no, I’m sure the gay penguins are just doing it for attention and to throw fun Pride parades.
So, what if for a moment we all just consider that perhaps God made me gay. What would that mean for you? How would that truth affect your relationship with God?
It makes me think back to stories my grandparents told where people thought that left-handedness was the sign of the devil and forced children to write with their right hand. Now we would laugh at such a thought. Handed-ness is not something chosen, it’s how we feel most comfortable and natural. But yes… we can train that nature out of ourselves for the sake of compliance. I wonder if people will ever look back on this time of making people fight their natural attractions and think, “how silly it was to want to change such a thing!”
The Consequences of Believing This is God’s Work
I understand why people struggle with accepting the idea that God made queer people. If that was truth, it would call into question the translations of the Bible and abuses (like conversion therapy) that have been perpetuated by some religious communities.
What would it mean for someone’s beliefs if they now had to unpack their own negative feelings toward the LGBTQ+? What might happen if their church admitted to getting it wrong? Condemning the LGBTQ+ has become such a cornerstone for those who carry this belief in their core, that removing it might shake their other long-held beliefs.
Religion appeals to our root chakra, that need for belonging and security. Spirituality connects with our crown chakra, the connection to a greater knowing. People can have religion without spirituality or spirituality without religion. Some people can have spirituality AND religion… but those who do may struggle if their innate knowing does not jive with the interpretation coming from the pulpit. Digging deeper into the historical context and changes in translations, learning as much as possible about the scripture from all angles may mean having to hide one’s spiritual knowing or having to find a new religious community that aligns with this knowing.
There are brave churches and leaders who are reexamining their understanding for the sake of truth and love, but they do so at the great risk of losing those around them. It’s hard to be surrounded by people who put down your internal knowing of what is right and true. Nobody should have to live in the spiritual closet either.
But I understand first-hand the fear of leaving the comfortable and safe life we have built around us, too. I understand why we don’t want to have these hard conversations. I understand why some people would rather stay quiet.
Some of My Favorite LGBTQ+ Affirming Creators
Consider the Source
Jen and I had dinner recently with a person whom we care for dearly. They are deeply rooted in the Church of Latter-Day Saints, an organization that has brought so much good to their life. Knowing their personal history, I understand the vital role that the Mormon church plays in their adult life. Their religion helps them be a better version of themselves.
I wasn’t shocked when they stated, “the church teaches that homosexuality is a choice and a sin, and I follow the church’s teachings.” But I can’t say it didn’t sting either. Jen shared with them that through her lived experience she can confidently say that being gay was never a choice for her. I bumbled out some less-than-articulate version of “yeah… consider me Exhibit B!”
Later that night as I was still perseverating over that part of our conversation I asked Jen, “In your whole life, have you ever met a gay person that considered their queerness a total choice?” Aside from a few who are part of the “ex-gay” movement (watch Pray Away for more on that), our answer was no. No gay person whom we have met has ever said that they chose their attraction.
Attraction, although influenced by societal factors, is something that we innately feel and it’s different for everyone. That’s why people express a difference in their “type’—tall and dark, athletic and preppy, scruffy and pirate-like, etc. If we could simply choose our attraction, then arranged marriages would be easy-peasy for everyone and we would all date whomever our parents picked out as their ideal mate for us.
Which leads me to the million-dollar question… if gay people aren’t choosing their attraction, then where is the “belief” coming from? Who made up this rumor? And how does holding such a belief benefit anyone? Just sit with that for a moment, please.
What I Know to Be True
The common rhetoric is that if someone is not living in alignment with God and defying God’s will, that their life will be filled with hardship. This was a sentiment expressed by our dinner guest as they affirmed that they would never stand in the way of our love, but that they viewed this as a trial for us to endure in this lifetime. If only they knew that our love is anything but a trial. This love has been nothing short of a blessing.
Spirituality became an important piece in my coming out process. Researcher, Dr. Brene Brown identified that “the concept of spirituality emerged from the data as a critical component of resilience and overcoming struggle,” in her book Rising Strong. I found that the more honest I was with myself and the more I live with integrity, the more joy and light I felt in my life and the more connected I felt to God. Coming out required me to rely so much on my faith. I had to believe that if I did what I knew to be right, that life would be okay. I needed to trust that if I took this leap towards truth, my spiritual safety net would catch me.
If there is one thing I have learned, it’s that the best way to be in alignment with your creator is to live as you were created to be.
A tremendous number of beautiful happenings that have occurred in my life since I stopped denying who God created me to be and started to fulfill my mission here on this earth. I can only believe that my identity as a lesbian is one that is valid, true, and worthy of love.
The hardship and trials of being LGBTQ+ do not come from God, they are created here on earth. Those who say gay people are going to hell, are the same ones making our lives hell on earth. The people who fear their children being gay because of the sentiment that life will be harder for them, are often the same people who are making lives harder for them. Being gay isn’t hard. People make it hard.
For the Love of God
I know I’m preaching to the queer-blog-reading choir here. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re an ally or part of the LGBTQ+ community. This blog may not reach people on the fringe. This blog won’t reach the people want to stand firm in their beliefs that the love I feel is an act of defiance towards God. Unfortunately, I don’t know that the words and stories that need to reach those ears will ever come from a gay person.
I guess I’ll just end this by saying that we have choice in our beliefs. We can always choose tolerance. We can choose acceptance. We can choose love without condition or judgment.