Being born in a Christian home in Chennai and having been greatly exposed to the evangelical community at large as part of my school and college education, I lived feeling condemned and guilty for many years. There were several occasions when I felt miserable after attending church services that revelled in gay bashing. Many a time, I wished and prayed that I would wake up as a ‘heterosexual man’. Well it doesnt take a rocket scientist to conclude that it remained an unfulfilled wish. I just had one question: If God abhors homosexuality (as articulated by the evangelicals) then why would he allow me to be this way? I did not pick up the “homosexual habit” along the way nor did I choose this orientation when I attained puberty. My own cliched arguement is that one does not make a choice between homosexuality and heterosexuality akin to choosing coke over pepsi. All of us know well enough, that being gay is not easy especially in our conservative socio-political environment. Aren’t we constitutional outlaws, per the anachronistic and pseudo moralistic Sec 377? I know for a fact that I will not choose to be an outlaw?
Since the Christian church views the scriptures as infallible, I am not surprised by the anti gay rhetoric. However, the winds of change are slowly blowing over the evangelical community and there are leaders like Tony Campolo, Philip Yancey, Dr. Everett Koop (fmr. Surgeon General) who realize that they cant hold a view about something they dont understand in it’s entirety. They are pushing for a more objective and moderate view around homosexuality. I wish I could say that the pace of change is quick, but as we have seen with the racisim, casteism and other social ills, change can be slow and painfully so, even among the intelligentsia.
I had personal encounters with ex gays ministries such as Exodus and Homosexuals Anonymous (the ex gay equivalent of AA) in NYC & Toronto. had even entered their programs to try and see if my faith could help me find a way out of the “homosexual sin & bondage”. I fasted and prayed and tried fantasizing about women and then tried to fall in love with a girl (what a valiant albeit misguided attempt….now more a source of mirth). Then there were some well meaning yet poorly informed people who wanted to drive the “evil spirit of homosexuality” out of my body etc. I thank God that none of that happened. I thank God that he loves just the way I am. I am a magnificent creation of his with unique gifts and abilities. I know for a fact that he does not identify me with a label of sexuality. I am happy and I love myself for who I am. I feel more liberated than ever before. I am happy and GAY!
One of the things I do, is to talk to many of my Christian peers who I know are as gay as I am but who still struggle to come to terms with it. I share my experiences and hope that someday they will arrive at a point that I am now at, but at their own pace. I believe there are no ‘one size fits all’ solution. As a south Indian Christian, I know that it can be quite a tough journey. I cant say that I had much success as many of my gay friends succumb to parental/societal pressures and end up in painful “heterosexual” marriages. In their own words, that only complicated their situation in more ways than one.
For those of you who may identify with what I have shared, here is a resource you can use. It is the website of Soulforce.org, (www.soulforce.org) an organization started by Mel White (former ghostwriter for evangelical heavyweights such as Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson et al). Mel made his journey towards accepting his sexuality after many years of marriage with a woman and now lives with his partner of many years. Soulforce is doing pioneering work to counter the anti gay rhetoric & propaganda of ex gay ministries like Exodus and Desert Stream etc. and is helping many Christian Gay men to get out of the gulit and condemnation quagmire they are stuck in. If you get a chance, please read Mel’s book – Stranger at the Gates – To be Gay and Christian in America. It makes eminent sense and is a honest, gripping, and bare all account of Mel’s life.
Finally, I wish all of you a wonderful new year. May peace, success and happiness abound in your personal and professional lives. Auld Lang Syne!