Pride is sin, no matter what kind of form it takes. Gay pride included. What I don't want to do in the things I'm about to write is give anyone the impression that I am in some way trying to soften the idea of the sinfulness of homosexuality or the blatant parading of it. Embracing a homosexual identity is sin - it's in direct opposition to God's will for us. And then to take it a step further and boldly proclaim and exclaim pride in that identity…well, that's dangerous - very dangerous. God is more patient than we often give Him credit for, but eventually that patience will come to an end and divine justice will come roaring in. There will be no more human pride - of any kind - parading about on that Day. Isaiah 13:11.
But what I want to do is take this from a little bit of a different angle than most people (in the blogosphere, anyway) are. I want to not only challenge the pride of gay people with the truth of the gospel, but also try to give (straight) people a little glimpse of what contributes to the making of a prideful gay. If you're not gay, you won't be able to empathize. But I would ask you to ask The Lord to help you sympathize.
This month - gay pride month - I've coincidentally been writing about the part of my life (for my book) leading up to the season where I pridefully embraced a gay identity. The pre-gay-pride season was a dark season. It was the part of my life where I hated myself. It was the part of my life where I hid myself.
It was the part of my life where I wished every second of every day that I could be living the life of someone else…. someone normal. Someone that would be accepted by my friends. Someone that my family could be proud of.
From the time that I knew that I was attracted to boys instead of girls - which was about 7 years old - until I was 20, the ultimate agenda of my life was not to take pride in my gayness, but to conceal it from any-and-everyone.
High school is horrifying for mostly every one. But high school for the closeted gay kid is like on the Freddy Krueger level of terror. My friends' gay bashing was incessant. They talked about how gross gays were. They mocked them. They acted like being gay was the worst possible thing a person could be. And to be completely honest, I agreed with them. I absolutely loathed who I was. I hated my homosexuality.
Every guy friend I had was into girls. Every single one. And it's ALL they talked about ALL the time. So I obviously had to partake in it to keep up my straight-charade. As I faked my way through those four years, I wondered everyday:
Why did I have to be the one to draw the short straw? If there was a God, why would He do this to me? Hadn't I already been through enough crap in my life? Why couldn't I just be wired the way that I was supposed to be? My life could be so much easier if I was straight. I could stop overanalyzing every conversation and interaction I have with other guys. I could stop worrying about whether or not they were onto the fact that I was attracted to them. I could stop having anxiety attacks every time I thought my parents would find out that I was looking at pictures of guys on the computer. I could stop having to fake my way through conversations about how hot certain girls were. I could stop having to just pretend to be into girls.
I could stop living a double life.
I could stop being depressed.
I could stop hating myself and the reality I lived in.
But the fact of the matter was that I was not wired the way that I was supposed to be. I could wish myself into straight-ness all day long - and for years I did - but that wasn't going to make it happen. I could try to pray the gay away - and for years I did - but it didn't work.
I was into guys, not girls. I was emotionally and physically attracted to guys, not girls. I wanted a boyfriend, not a girlfriend. I wanted a husband, not a wife. I was gay, whether I liked it or not. And I most definitely, as you've probably caught onto by now, did not.
Over the years, this tension between who I was and who I wanted to be turned me into a very uptight, jealous and angry person. The only time I ever felt a release from these things is when I drank. And so I ended up drinking a lot… and frequently. From 18 to 20 I had many, many emotional and probably even manic breakdowns in my drunkenness…. over being gay. I would call family members at 3 am and leave unintelligible voicemails filled with screaming and crying. I would lash out at my friends and then break down into sobs. I so badly wanted to tell them who and what I was…. but I was too afraid.
When I lost all my scholarships and was flunking out of college, my parents told me I was wasting my life away - and I knew that was true. But I felt like my existence was a waste anyway. I felt so paralyzed in my depression. I knew I needed to escape the destructiveness of alcohol abuse, but I had no idea how to do that. Drunken reality was so much better than sober reality. It was my only escape. Alcohol and "the party" was honestly the only thing I felt was worth living for.
Fast-forward to 20 years old: While I was still incredibly afraid of coming out, my first real relationship with a guy (and my first glimpse of real hope at happiness) gave me the courage to just do it. I began to tell my friends that I was gay and I gave them permission to tell everyone else. I never personally told my family, but they found out soon enough. News in a small Louisiana town travels fast…. especially when it's news like this.
What I had so feared my entire life was happening right in front of my eyes, and it was hard for me to really grasp. Everyone I knew was discovering my deepest, darkest secret… and it wasn't against my will. I wanted them to know. I was scared of their reaction, but I was at the end of my rope. I couldn't continue to exist in an illusion. I couldn't conceal this part of myself anymore. No matter how my family and friends were going to take the news, I knew this had to be done.
But everyone's reaction was quite surprising. They all supported me.
For the first time in my life I was letting myself be fully known by people…. and they loved me. They didn't cringe or curl their lips in disgust. They didn't tell me I was gross or abnormal. They didn't tell me I needed to change.
They embraced me… all of me. Over the course of the next year, I found myself having more friends than I had ever had in my life. I was having more fun than I had ever had. I became closer with my family than I had ever been. I became more relaxed than I had ever been. I was happier than I had ever been.
So, yes, I proudly proclaimed myself as gay…. but mostly out of the relief and joy of not being hated for being gay. I had feared for so long that this thing would cause me a life of loneliness and rejection. I had secretly suffered so much internal conflict, confusion and pain for so many years and when that was lifted, I couldn't help but vocalize my happiness in who I was.
And this is the experience of most gay people. You want to know why they're so blatant with their rainbow-striped-pride-month profile pictures on Facebook and their #gaypride hashtags on twitter and their pictures with their partners on Instagram? It's partly because the aspect of their life that they have always feared would cause people to reject them is the aspect of their life that people - to their surprise - accept and embrace. They don't have to hide anymore. They don't have to hate themselves for not being "normal" anymore. They can finally be proud of who they are instead of suffocating under the weight of wanting to be someone else.
And that (what I just wrote in the paragraph above) is the world's proposed antidote to all of same-sex-attracted people's problems. Come out, be you, and be proud of it - they say. So that's what people do. That's what I did.
But after a couple of years I would learn, sheerly by the grace of God, that pride in who I was didn't complete me. Not like I thought it would… not like the world says it will. Being "out" and proud didn't make me whole. It was better than being closeted, most definitely. I wasn't living a double life anymore and that was a massive relief. But my alcohol abuse continued and grew more intense. My depression deepened. My dissatisfaction with my life remained.
And then God, who was nowhere on my radar, stepped in. Uninvited and unexpected. And I thank Him for it.
The Lord opened my eyes to clearly see my sinful arrogance in 2010. I don't just mean to see my homosexual sin (although that was part of it)… but my overall sinfulness. With God's help, I began to believe what was true…that I was broken. And that I needed saving.
It didn't take long before I became a follower of Jesus Christ. After reading the Bible for myself, I knew that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life - as He claimed. I knew that there was no way to the Father… no way for forgiveness… no way for cleansing… no way for new life… but through Him. I knew I needed His substitutionary work on the cross to be applied to my life and I prayed for Him to do that.
For the very first time in my life - and for the four years since that time - I have experienced true joy and peace. The joy and peace that self-worship can't bring, but that only God-worship can. I have experienced increasing levels of security. Not in who I am or in anything that's in me…. but in who Jesus is and all that He is for me. I have discovered that the solution to all of my problems isn't me trying to fix myself or to make myself straight or to live according to my feelings and sexual impulses. The solution to all of my problems is Jesus. Just Jesus.
And no, I didn't go back into the closet when I became a Christian… all of my brothers and sisters in Christ know I'm attracted to men. And they have come along side me to walk this walk with me. They comfort me with the hope of gospel when I'm feeling down. They strengthen me with the truth of the gospel when I'm feeling weak. They don't look at me funny because of my particular sin struggles. They see themselves as being in the same boat in light of the fact that we "all have sinned.." - even though that sin fleshes out in different ways in different people.
People attracted to the same sex shouldn't be the only ones that know they're attracted to the same sex. They need to be fully known by other people. But the best place for them to be fully known and loved isn't in a gay bar. The best place for them to be fully known and loved is in the Body of Christ.
I hope if you're a Christian that you will walk away from this blog with at least a minuscule of understanding of what you're unbelieving - and prideful - gay friends have been through and what they are currently experiencing. I hope you will affirm their need to be fully known and loved, while being truthful about the reality of their (and all of humanity's) sinfulness and their need for reconciliation to God through Jesus - where true life is.
And if you're gay and proud, please believe me when I say there is a richer life to be lived. There is deeper joy than what you're experiencing. I know it feels good to embrace and exalt yourself, especially after rejecting and hiding yourself, but you will never know true joy until you end your opposition against God. You know deep down you are opposed to Him, I don't need to talk you into seeing that. You know deep down that you are in sin; I don't need to convince you of that. But there is hope for us all through the Cross of Christ.
Lay down your pride and put on Christ. Embrace His grace. It's a much better life.