By Randy B
My sexuality and Christian faith have long been linked in one way or another, for better or worse. Despite early fears of condemnation, God has been faithful, keeping me near to him. Growing up in a small, northern California town and raise in a formal, high-church Episcopal family, it was easy to know that people disapproved of gay. The distant God I knew didn't approve of me; The church I knew didn't approve of me even though church seemed just a duty, a facade of self-righteous piety. Certainly, coming out of the closet in Rednecksville just wasn't done in the late '70's. My family's attitudes were also quite clear. My Father once reduced me to tears after I hinted of my affection for an older schoolmate. All of the messages I received in early life said gay wasn't acceptable.
When I attended an evangelical summer camp and made a born again commitment to Christ at age 16, I immediately confessed idolatry as a sin and added homosexual inclination as almost an afterthought, knowing even then that my attraction to certain other males was more than just sexual lust. There was a spiritual connection too. But I believe my new Lord and Savior would fix everything. I trusted that God would change my lust into holy and pure, non-sexual friendships. At age 20 I believe God led me to an ex-gay ministry. It seemed to be just the thing I had been looking for. I still thank God for that five-year involvement. True, it compounded my heavy internalized homophobia, but I believe God used it to help me. It kept me out of the promiscuity I would have faced in college. With my low self-image college would have been difficult. It also gave me the space to grow as a Christian and start to deal with myself, who I was, without any overt sexual baggage attached.
During my time in the ex-gay ministry, I met a fellow attendee at the national ex-gay conference who would become my first real love. Since sex would have violated our moral understanding, we came to love each other enough not to have sex for more than three years. We could see during this time that God wasn't changing us. Finally we came to believe that God could and would bless us as lovers. The relationship didn't last long ... I was in New York City, he in Missouri. The stresses of changing jobs, panic over us, and fear all led him back to the ex-gay ministry for several more years. I felt abandoned but I still kept coming out.
Because of this relationship I too continued to wrestle with God over how to be gay and Christian. My watershed came when I had seen enough unchanged ex-gays to realize that it is not a preference but an orientation. Why would such a loving God allow people to develop such an immutable condition that was so sinful? In the end, after years of wrestling with this issue, I had to review my entire original commitment to Christ--seeing then that God had not failed me, but that I just hadn't been ready for a sexually affirming faith at a younger age. God even protects us from ourselves until we can be remolded into God's image. I emerged with a healed image of a loving Father God, and a vision of holy and pure lesbian-gay Christian love and community. This has sustained me.
While I lived in New York, a les-gay Episcopal group I attended didn't satisfy my need to fellowship with other evangelicals and maintain a Bible-based faith. God graciously provided Ralph Blair's EC group in New York. By then I had fully come out to friends and family, with mixed results, was arrested at a gay-rights protest in New York, and joined with the March on Washington. Sadly, I learned that my first boyfriend was finally out but diagnosed HIV positive. In his coming out process and promiscuous life style, he had lost his faith.
When I moved to California to continue my education, there was a local EC chapter. From the start at EC Laguna I found others who had a heart for bringing the Gospel to an alienated lesbian and gay community, for challenging the Christian Right on their ground and for seeking ways of keeping Christ meaningful for evangelicals. I value the Body of Christ--God in the fellowship of believers. I see ECWR growing and maturing into the powerful force I believe God intends it to be in our needy world. I am blessed and honored to be a part of that force. In setbacks and in victories, God has always been there, never abandoning me--a most faithful lover. God has always been there.