Confessions of a homophobiaphobic

Confessions of a homophobiaphobic

A Story by ~Artemis~
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An exploration of gay rights and the meaning of Christ-like love.

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Imagine this: I’m on my trampoline, my back pressed against the soothingly warm black surface as I gaze up at that deep, clear blue summer sky; my hair sticking out in all directions like some frenzied electric chair victim, knotted and tangled around my scalp from where I’ve rubbed and scraped.

My eyes are wide, red, and crusted with salt, red lines marking the path of salty tears down my cheeks.

I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and say:

God,

Help me.

Once upon a time I thought anti-gay bullying was over, or at least close. Regardless of my personal beliefs about the morality of homosexual relations, I certainly didn’t want these people to be degraded, discriminated against, or mistreated in any way, so I celebrated this progression. But then I came across the September suicides. In September 2011, 10 gay teens across the US committed suicide. In Utah, this problem also persists, with at least 5 deaths in 2010 and 2 in 2012 due to anti-gay bullying. Another study pointed out that over 2000 of Utah’s homeless youth identify as LGBT, with 70% reporting being kicked out because of their sexuality. So basically, I was wrong about this is issue being, “over,” and regardless of my moral beliefs and stance on gay marriage, this was a huge issue, one I could no longer ignore.

Let me back up a few years.

The first time I heard the word gay, it was a grade school teacher telling us that gay used to mean “happy”, not the ugly perverted meaning the world has given it now. Side note: I’m still in contact with that teacher. She’s a sweet lady and I love her, but she comes from a different generation, a different frame of mind.

At that time, I still had only a vague idea of what it meant to be gay: I knew, or thought, that it had something to do with men and other men, but that was as far as I got. I would hear things though, from other people, and people would tell me things. Eventually I was able to form one coherent truth. To be gay was to have an attraction for someone of the same gender, and these kind of feelings were inspired by Satan and were a sign of the growing evils of our day.

So that was all fine and dandy, until I got to high school, and suddenly they were everywhere. Gay people. And I was forced to face a new truth. They were just people. They were the amazingly dressed guy who waltzed down the hallway in bright green skinny jeans and a plaid red scarf, who my government teacher cited at being amazingly respectful of both sides of the gay marriage issue. They were the hilarious comedian in the acting company, who participated in one of the most moving theater productions I’d ever seen in my entire life. This was also the guy who so sweetly apologized profusely for accidently hitting my friend in the b**b while they were dancing together, and who freaked out when he walked into the choir room to find that the girls in the show had turned it into the dressing room�" Too which my response was, dude, you’re gay, it’s not like it really matters�" however, his concern was still touching.

Then there was the cute guy who was obsessed with lady gaga and wrote a hilarious monologue about it. Who was an amazing and inspiring dancer that I loved having dance class with, and who also played my husband in our theater class and was simply amazing.

And later, my best friend would even openly identify herself as bisexual. This was the best friend who I’d known since I was like four. Whose opinion and ideas I valued more than anyone else’s, with whom I could talk to for hours and hours and never run out of things to say.

I didn’t want to hate them, and I don’t think I ever did. But I was fixated on them too. I was so obsessed with treating them like normal people that I couldn’t and would freak out whenever I was around them. I didn’t know how to talk to them, I was terrified of saying something offensive, so I didn’t say anything at all. I knew they were human, just like me, but a part of me didn’t know it. Or didn’t know how to express it. And some part of me knew that they were wrong, they were sinners. That was and would always be true.

But then My sophomore year my teacher decided to produce a one-act version of The Laramie Project. The Laramie project explores the death of Mathew Shepard, a young gay boy who was brutally beaten to death by two of his peers. Put together by the Tectonic Theater Project, in was a montage of actual quotes taken from witnesses, family members, and citizens of Laramie. One quote in particular stood out to me. The Doctor commented on how, unbeknownst to the authorities, both Mathew and one of his assailants were being treated in the same hospital at the same time after the attack. And here it is:

“They were both my patients and they were two kids. I took care of both of them....Of both their bodies. And...For a brief moment I wondered if this is how God feels when he looks down at us. How we are all his kids....Our bodies....Our souls....And I felt a great deal of compassion....For both of them....”

That line… I wonder if this is how God feels as he looks down on us….I couldn’t get it out of my head. I mulled it over, I prayed about it. I talked to my Mom about it and we came to the same conclusion. This story wasn’t about gay people or gay rights, at least the way my theater teacher was presenting it. It was merely asking one simple question. How can we as fellow human beings, as children of God, do this to one another?

And suddenly it was like someone lit a candle in my brain. I never really thought that way before, but it was true. It was completely, undeniably, irrevocably true. They were God’s children, what’s more they were my brothers and sisters. God loves homosexuals, more than anything I could imagine, and one day I was going to have to stand before him as my actions towards all my fellow man are revealed. Wouldn’t I want my testimony to be one of love, support, understanding and forgiveness? I walked out of that theater with a renewed sense of hope, a deeper understanding of my heavenly father, and unbridled love toward all mankind.

Which was great and everything, but then reality set back in. I was still part of a religion that condemned homosexual activity and gay marriage, which many consider an infringement on gay rights. I still raised my hand every other General Conference to sustain Thomas S. Monson, President of the LDS faith, and others who were part of “The Family: A proclamation to the World.” A document which states, “the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.” A statement of which I testify and support. For some, affirming this principle isn’t a problem. I can hold my beliefs while still loving and serving all those around me. But for others, it is not enough. Furthermore, it is a form of discrimination, bigotry, hatred. Supporting traditional marriage makes you a homophobic. An ugly, hate-filled word. A word that has come to have such negative connotations as “Hitler” and “Nazi.” I knew the world felt this way because when my sophomore health class was asked to rank all the crimes in the world, homophobia was considered the worst. It was difficult to reconcile my beliefs with the beliefs of the world.

The popular statement, “Hate the sin, love the sinner,” didn’t help me much either. How could I love someone while hating what they did, who they were? I knew there was a way to do it, but I couldn’t personally find the line between the sin and the sinner, at least not a line I was comfortable with. But in addition to my external conflict with the world, I had my own internal conflict to resolve. I believe that the most powerful thing in this world is choice, or our ability to make choices. I may believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but how could I take away the right to choose a spouse from someone else? How could I deny them the right to make their choices? To choose who to be with in this life? Regardless of what their choices brought, it was their choice to make, not mine. And deny them this choice went against everything I believed. But to give them this right also went against everything I believed. I was conflicted, at war with myself. Two powerful voices were waging war inside me. I also wondered why I struggled so much to accept this. A part of me wanted to say it was because I was so sympathetic to the suffering of the LGBT community that I didn’t want to deny them happiness, but another part of me wondered if that was an excuse. Was I just too afraid to stand up for what’s right? But what was right? I didn’t know. If I made one choice, then I was a homophobe, at least by the world standards. If I made another, then I was fearing man more than God. Either way, I was a making a mistake.

But there was another commandment I read in the scriptures, love one another. And I knew that regardless of what was right and what was wrong, these people were suffering. Far more than I was. Gay children were dying in droves, taking their own life one after another. I’ve also heard so many stories of gay teens who’ve been victims of physical and verbal abuse. My own best friend endured a lot of mistreatment when she opened up about her sexuality and supported gay rights. I knew I wasn’t part of this, but I had a feeling that if we stopped preaching so much about the wickedness of homosexual activity and focused instead on loving these individuals, it would be harder for other people to confuse the sin with the sinner and continue to bully gay kids.

Engaging in gay sexual activity may be wrong, but how can people suffering because of their sexuality be right? I can’t rest comfortably while God’s children are taking their lives in these numbers, while his children are suffering. But what should I do? Because these people may be suffering, but if the church backs down there won’t be a loud enough voice to uphold God’s standards. I didn’t know what was right, so rather than risk being wrong I made an even worse decision. I chose to do nothing.

But gradually, the stories of their suffering ate away at my conscious, which was how I ended up on that trampoline. Unsure of what was right. If I was right. I didn’t know how to handle it, these conflictions. And I was maybe even a little angry. Why couldn’t it be clear? Why couldn’t God make it clear to me what was right? But that anger gave way to fear. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just accept it? I may claim it was in the name of love, but perhaps it was fear, weakness. I was afraid of the world’s judgment. I was weak.

So I said a prayer. After I said it. I just laid back and gave in. And then I felt it. Peace. Comfort. Rushing through me. And then all at once, I felt, okay. Better than okay. I felt loved. I was okay that I was struggling, I wasn’t anything less to my heavenly father because of it.

And then He, of course, being the amazing father that he is, finally led me to the answer I’d been looking for. A talk by Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of the LDS church,  entitled, “Helping those with same-gender attraction,” that explained that there was nothing wrong with being gay. They were not inherently sinners, with false feelings of love inspired by Satan. He also talked a lot about how even he doesn’t understand why these feelings exist or where they come from, and he explains that we may never know in this life, and that’s okay.

Concerning people who have same-gender attraction and a strong testimony of the LDS faith, I don’t know why God allows for them to have these feelings, but sometimes I wonder if it’s because God knew his children needed a brother or sister who understood the atonement in a way they could not. Who understand forgiveness in a way they could not. Who understand faith in a way I could not. Who understand God in a way so different from me. And who provide a unique perspective on love that the world so desperately needs. 

 I don’t know why they have this trial in this life, why they have to struggle with pains and torments I can barely understand. But I know that God loves them, and I know if they turn to him he can free them from worldly condemnation and remind them of their indescribable worth and value in building up the kingdom of God. And I know that by giving into their temptations they are no less in his eyes, so they should be no less than mine. And I know because of the love our redeemer has for us, through his great atonement they can be forgiven of all their trespasses, just like me.

There is nothing wrong with being gay. They are children of their Heavenly father same as me, and he loves them very much. That are not evil, they are beautiful. And yes, same-gender sexual activity is a serious sin, but we are all sinners with our own imperfections. No one person is greater than another, ever. We are all children of God, we are all family. And I will love and serve my family to the end.

Now, this doesn’t just make all my doubts and confusions go away. It’s a very thin line between these two strong beliefs, one I am still struggling to find, and constantly failing to follow. But it’s okay. I learned then, I suppose, that I’m not always going to be right. I have my weaknesses, but I also have strengths. Just as every one of God’s children has their own weaknesses and strengths. Finding what’s right isn’t easy, for any of us. Which is why God has given us each other. Just as he lifts each of us up, we can lift each other up. I can lift people who are struggling with same-sex attraction up and bring them to Christ, in my own way.

Am I fearing Man’s power more than God’s by not taking a strong opposition against same-sex marriage?

Maybe.

Am I a sinner?

Yes.

But perhaps it is this understanding that we’re all sinners, with weakness, but also with beautiful, unimaginable strengths that allow us to come together.

And to love one another.

© 2014 ~Artemis~


Author's Note

~Artemis~
A/N: To say I'm nervous about sharing this is a huge understatement, but here I go anyway. I would like to note that I wrote this about a year ago, and the experiences it documents happens several years before that.

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Featured Review

This was beautiful. I'm not sure exactly what you're background is, but I identified so much with what you wrote. I grew up in Catholicism, not strict at all, but I grew up going to church and going to prayer meetings. (Which I still do.) The issue of homosexuality has always been a battle in my beliefs. I love the message of God's overwhelming love on ALL his children, and it's true! I have prayed to God for clarity on the issue, and I got the same message. God has so much love for everyone, because we ARE all sinners, it's not right to put a special emphasis and light on the sin of "acts of homosexuality." We sin everyday, but God continues to pour out his love and mercy on us as his blessed children. This was an amazing piece of writing, absolutely touching and inspiring to hear of God's work in you.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

~Artemis~

5 Years Ago

Thank you for being willing to read my writing, it means a lot. I belong to the LDS faith, so I'm a.. read more
Madeline

5 Years Ago

Absolutely, I agree:)



Reviews

This was beautiful. I'm not sure exactly what you're background is, but I identified so much with what you wrote. I grew up in Catholicism, not strict at all, but I grew up going to church and going to prayer meetings. (Which I still do.) The issue of homosexuality has always been a battle in my beliefs. I love the message of God's overwhelming love on ALL his children, and it's true! I have prayed to God for clarity on the issue, and I got the same message. God has so much love for everyone, because we ARE all sinners, it's not right to put a special emphasis and light on the sin of "acts of homosexuality." We sin everyday, but God continues to pour out his love and mercy on us as his blessed children. This was an amazing piece of writing, absolutely touching and inspiring to hear of God's work in you.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

~Artemis~

5 Years Ago

Thank you for being willing to read my writing, it means a lot. I belong to the LDS faith, so I'm a.. read more
Madeline

5 Years Ago

Absolutely, I agree:)

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Added on October 7, 2014
Last Updated on October 7, 2014
Tags: gay rights, LGBT, Christian, LDS, essay, love

Author

~Artemis~
~Artemis~

About
I'm a young writer who loves to read fiction and has just opened he world up to writing her own. I love to give feedback and receive it. I'm a huge thespian, I love to dance, and I live for music. T.. more..

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