If you haven’t already heard, actress Cynthia Nixon recently caused a big stir within the GLBT community. A few weeks ago she publicly said that being gay was a choice for her. Yikes — not exactly what her gay fans, or surely many same-sex marriage advocates, want to hear.
Shortly after Nixon made these comments, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni (himself gay) said that those outraged over Nixon’s comments missed the point, reminding everyone that “There is no conclusive evidence whether sexual orientation is hard-wired at birth or possibly influenced by outside factors.” You rarely hear the sort of statement Bruni made coming from the GLBT community. There are very few people willing to honestly and fairly talk about the subject of choice in or change with same-sex attraction. It’s naturally a divisive topic in the GLBT community because acknowledging this creates a multitude of questions that follow, not least of all questions about the need and “fairness” of same-sex marriage.
Since Nixon was brave enough to open the door (despite later back peddling to clarify her statement), I’ve decided to weigh in on the matter myself. Though, I know well that much of what I say about my own experience will be dismissed by many GLBTs as either: 1) you were never gay, or 2) you must be bisexual.
The first time someone asked me if I was gay I was a freshman in college. But my struggle with same-sex attraction started in grade school with my female friendships. Back then I didn’t really fit in. I preferred sports, jeans, and sweatshirts, to short skirts, boys, and make up. I would become emotionally attached to the girlfriends that I did have. I struggled with jealousy and became possessive of them. I wanted to be special to someone and to have someone who understood me.
I wasn’t very comfortable being a girl. It didn’t feel safe. When I finally did become close to a girlfriend, I felt safe with and trusted her. The closeness I experienced with her and other girls often times turned into an attraction for me. That was scary. Telling anyone about these attractions was out of the question for me.
I dated men on and off during high school, college, and even in between relationships with women, trying to feel “normal.” What I never experienced with these men was the emotional and spiritual connection I found with women. For some reason, at the time, I thought I should be able to relate to men the same way I related to women.
My OMG moment about this period of my life came recently when I was reading the article “I’m not Gay…I’m David” by David Prosen. In it, he shared a study done by Alan Medinger that revealed a number of untruths that, at times, can surface when one accepts homosexuality as their primary identity. The list summarizes my own journey during the early years I spent trying to balance my faith with coming out as a lesbian.
- I must have been born this way.
- If I was born this way, God made me this way.
- If God made me this way, how can there be anything wrong with it?
- It’s in my nature and I must be true to my nature.
- If it’s my nature, I can’t change.
- If I try to change I would be trying to go against my nature and that would be harmful. Accepting myself as gay feels good—I feel like a thousand-pound load has been lifted off of my back—so it must be OK.
- If people can’t accept my being gay, then something is wrong with them.
- If people can’t accept my being gay, then they don’t accept me because that’s who I am.
That was then. Today, my life is different, my thinking is different, and yes, my choices are different. I took the opportunity 11 years ago to leave a same-sex relationship behind and seek the Lord’s ideal plan for me. And through building healthy relationships with men and women, regular meetings with my spiritual director, regular confession and some good ‘ole therapy, I honestly do not struggle with same-sex attraction anymore.
Perhaps due to the unfortunate, insatiable human need to “belong” and label people, many will ask if I consider myself “changed,” “cured” or heterosexual now. If you’re one of those questioning, all I can say is that the only label I put on myself now is “Christian woman.” I “belong” to God. In fact, the more time I take to build my relationship with the Lord, the more comfortable I am with being a woman and my womanhood, and the less I struggle with same-sex attraction. I am not naïve enough to think an attraction to a woman can’t happen again. But I am confident enough to know I have a choice in how I respond to that temptation and Christ will strengthen me on my path to holiness.
Recently, I was talking with a father who is struggling with his daughter’s proclamation to his family that she has same-sex attraction, that she can’t go into confession and walk out straight, and that’s that. My response? I told him, “You and your daughter are both missing the point. The opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality, it’s holiness.”