Imagine what it's like growing up in a Christian household and fearing that you might be Gay? There is a ninety percent chance that you have not personally experienced this type of secret inner trauma. Imagine attending grade school only to hear the teacher question if there are any "Queers in this class?" Close your eyes and think of the internal terror of a little boy that feared everything. You see, I was convinced that everybody; parents, teachers, friends, relatives, and especially my Church despised homosexuals. Why would I think any differently?
I finally grew the acceptance of my personal sexual identity in my early thirties. I had concluded my father would do me harm if I was to explore the questions of my orientation while he was living. I miss him every day, and this doubt, still haunts the empty valleys of my memories. Not having brothers or sisters, or a cuddly pet, I began to take refuge in an imagined world of fantasy. Grounded upon Catholic Sunday sermons and frequent parental comments, I believed my sexual body was indeed a filthy despised appendage that threatened to separate me from eternal salvation. I was learning to hate myself. In fact in the core of my being, I somehow felt like a walking, living flaw. My illegitimate birth confirmed the mistake nature had made. Dad went out of his way to extend the male influence that would manufacture a "strong man". I was trained to be "Macho." I was brought up to be heterosexual. That was so long ago. The past can only hurt me if I allow it to. Realize now, nobody can make anyone feel inferior unless we permit them, nobody, not even the Pope of Rome.
I am blessed. I have discovered that several of my friends, and now even my mother, have offered me a degree of unconditional love. So much more importantly, I live trusting in the absolute love of Jesus. Love that is available, on a personal level to everybody; straight, gay, left-handed, black, or mentally challenged. To the rest of the world we may be considered "Strangers," but Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters.....His Family.
The terror of rejection no longer imprisons my creative ability as it once did. Call me what you may: monster, sinner, a sickness, or intrinsically evil, I still believe that I am a worthwhile person. A Gay Christian! The most important thing Gay and Lesbian's can do for themselves is to develop self love, respect, and come "OUT." This takes a leap of faith....for me the pain of dishonesty to myself, to please others, simply became too great.
Being out means admitting to yourself and at least one other human that you are not heterosexual. This is something like rebirth. The world will never again look quite the same. For many it becomes a bond of love with a sacred inner child; a commitment of acknowledgement. The most important vocation for homosexuals is providing affirming acceptance for those struggling with their own identity, in other words, to become "family" for one another. Secondly, to find forgiveness for those that have hurt us. This continues to be a struggle for me.
As I read "The New Freeman'" (Jan.9th) a local New Brunswick Catholic Newspaper. The " Women For Faith And Family", proclaim that homosexuals are a "serious sexual disorder that places the lives of all society and especially children in jeopardy." Several of my close friends have been sexually molested as youngsters, not a single one by a gays or lesbians, but rather by heterosexual parents, and relatives. How much longer will homophobic lies continue ? In fact, children are sexually safest when raised in lesbian households! Is it any wonder that suicide is disproportionately extreme amongst teenagers struggling with sexual identity in such a hate filled world? The majority of Christian Churches still show their teeth when confronted with the "Gay Question." I tire of being struck over the head by hard, blunt Bibles, especially since all scientific data and research indicates that sexual orientation is genetic. How much longer will religions believe that the world is flat and straight?
As the title implies, I feel like a stranger, in my own Faith. Without Jesus, my efforts are meaningless. I wake up in the morning to find a "We are praying for you sinner" notice on my windshield. Where is the love? Unless we, the presbytery, begins to search and find good in fellow humans, our religious institutions will continue to crumble into shadows, the judgmental demigods that they are increasing to look like. Parents simply must accept the responsibility that one out of ten of their offspring may be Gay or Lesbian. These children may also sit in overpowering church congregations as I did, repeating the "Amens" of condemnation against "Strangers." If you are teaching your children to hate homosexuals, you may be teaching them to hate themselves.
Rob Eichberg, Ph.D.
Bret K. Johnson
Leanne McCall Tigert