FOR THE DAY YOU WISH YOU WERE STRAIGHT
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch with me.’ He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’”
- Matthew 26: 36-39
Dear Sister, Dear Brother, Dear Friend,
Life can be difficult. I struggled with questions and doubts regarding my sexual orientation for years before admitting to myself that I was gay. As I grew closer to acknowledging the truth, I tried to tell myself that I was who I was, that God loved me no matter what, that I needed to accept my own nature.
One quiet, lonely night, as I lay in bed, the enormity of my situation struck me like a sudden storm. I felt irreparably broken, like the part of me that was meant for love had been permanently corrupted by disease and sin. All my life, I had dreamed of falling in love with a woman, making her my wife, and raising children that were born of our flesh becoming one. I had built so much romance and so much happiness into this dream. I wanted it desperately and there was no room for anything else. I did not believe such love was possible with another man. In fact, I was convinced that it would be morally reprehensible to even hope for such a thing. And so, as I lay there in the darkness, for the first time, I asked God to make me straight.
And yet, in that moment, the Spirit of God was with me. She reminded me of Christ’s agony in the garden the night before his crucifixion, the night before he bore the weight of all sin and death for the salvation of humanity. As it is written in Matthew 26: 39: “He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.’”
My struggles are nowhere near those of Jesus. He is God incarnate as man, Love made flesh, the only one capable of reuniting fallen creation to our God. I am not so blind as to think my suffering equates with his. However, he took on human flesh to save us and to show us how to live. The night I wished to be made straight was my personal moment in Gethsemane. I could see before me the grief that my sexual orientation would bring to certain members of my family. I could see the loss of any hopes I might hold for one day loving a wife and biological children. I could see years of struggle as I sorted through what this undesired reality meant for me and my little corner of the world. I faced my moment on the cross, and I was given the grace to follow the example of my savior. I prayed to my God, “Not as I will, but as you will.”
In this life, there will be crosses for all of us to bear. We face a constellation of adversities, temptations, vices, oppressors, and demons. Much of the world and, sadly, sometimes our dearest loved ones, will fall prey to certain falsehoods. In their ignorance, many will teach us there is something wrong with being gay. Many will lead us to believe in lies, to think that being different from the majority makes us damaged or less valuable. There is constant pressure to conform, to pretend to be something we are not. Too often we are led to believe that we need to find a way to be straight for our stories to have happy endings.
Listen to the words of Romans 8: 38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God creates each of us and embraces us with a love that is unstoppable. She walks with us as we grow into the people we choose to become, day by day. Being gay could never change that.
God made us gay for a purpose. As I lay in bed that night, praying to be straight, some part of me remembered to say, “Not as I will, but as you will.” About a year later, I had an insight that God made me gay for a reason: there was a man out there who was lonely, who needed someone to hold him, who needed someone to love, who needed me. Dreaming of this man gave me the strength to stand firm in my God-given identity. Furthermore, being gay has deepened my capacity for mercy and opened my eyes to the suffering of others. Deep in my heart, I feel called to share the good news of God’s unconditional love with people who are shunned by traditional religious institutions and society in general. My own life experience has prepared me for this mission, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve God and Her people.
Being gay does not hold us back from our dreams. We can still dream of marriage and children. We can still dream of growing closer to God and deeper in Her love. We can still live in service to others. We can still explore the world, create art, play basketball, plant lilac bushes, swim in the ocean, hike in the rainforest, start a business, or spend a year traveling the country in a beat-up minivan. Life is full of opportunities. Some might try to tell you that it is impossible to find happiness, that you should give up, that being gay prevents you from finding joy, love, integrity, or faith. But those people are wrong.
Our God is a God of hope. She did not make us gay to watch us suffer or crush our dreams. I believe She made us gay to open our hearts deeper in the ways of love. Before realizing I was gay, I thought I had all the answers. I had studied religion at school and I was well educated in the doctrines of Christianity. I thought I was wise, but I was hard-hearted. I did not really search for the truth in the gospel of Christ or in the Holy Spirit. Rather, I searched for truth in my own opinions, and I was unforgiving of anyone, including myself, who diverted from my own vision of right and wrong.
The spiritual journey I have undertaken in the light of my sexual orientation has deepened my compassion, my empathy, my humility, and my understanding of God’s unconditional love and saving grace. I shudder to think of the person I would be if I were granted my wish that night and turned straight. I would never have learned to question my judgmental attitudes or the harshness I inflicted on myself and others.
And in being gay, I have discovered new and beautiful dreams that never would have been born if I were straight. I know the joy of breaking stereotypes simply by existing as both a proud gay man and faithful Christian. I have made phone calls and walked in marches advocating for marriage equality. I have spoken up for better services for young people experiencing homelessness, so many of whom identify as sexual minorities. One of the greatest joys of my life is volunteering with a youth group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, questioning, and queer people in my home town. I learn so much from these young people about how to be a kind, loving, and courageous human being. I am so proud of everyone in my youth group, and I am so thankful to have them in my life. All of these experiences are dreams come true, and they only came to pass because I am gay.
Also, remember that many of our straight friends go through similar struggles. It helps to build bridges of understanding rather than walls that tear us apart. Being straight is not necessarily easy. Most of us, gay and straight and everyone in between, struggle to find a true sense of identity at some point in our lives. And most of us struggle to find friends who understand. Many of us search and search and search to find where we belong and what we were put on this earth to do. Changing one aspect of our identities would not take away these universal human challenges. In fact, we can bring meaning to our journeys by realizing that these shared struggles help us to connect with one another.
Hold on, my friend. You may be at a point in life where you wish you could be straight. You may face loneliness and your own fears as I did, or you might face more distressing external forces, such as violence or rejection at school or in your home. It is okay to wish you were straight sometimes. Feelings come and go, and they simply are what they are. But I implore you to search for reasons to be thankful for who you are. Be safe, and find people in your community who will help you see that you are created in the image of the almighty God who loves you. Consider reaching out to people you trust for support. Talk to someone about what you are going through— a teacher, a family member, a counselor, or a friend. God often shows Her love for us through the love of other people. If you can’t think of someone you feel comfortable opening up to, there are many resources you can connect with through a simple phone call. For example, you can call The Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 twenty-four hours a day. The good people who answer the phones are trained specifically to work with young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning.
I hope and pray that in time, you will come to know that the world is blessed because of who you are. Pray with me today that God will build within you an unshakable faith and lead you to the joy and purpose She has in store for your life.
I wish you peace and deep joy, now and always.