The other day I did some organizing in my house and stumbled upon one of my old journals. I have kept journals for over 20 years now, and they provide a snapshot to not only my activities during the times I kept them, but more importantly a sense of my mental, emotional and spiritual state. Much of that time I lived as ex-gay, someone trying to change and suppress his gay orientation and gender differences.
Many of my journal entries include records of church services, sermons and prayer times where I kept track of scriptures, prayers, messages and thoughts. Looking back I see things differently and marvel at my lack of insight in spite of the many ways my subconscious mind tried to speak to me.
Here is an excerpt from May 26, 1993
On Sunday during service I received a vision. In it a person was sitting in an enclosed garden. All around him growing on the lattice and walls were roses. The flowers were open and heavy with fragrance. But hidden among the leaves were thorns that were as long as railroad ties and as sharp as needles. The person made some attempt to move out of the garden but found no door. He was in a prison. Anytime he tried to push through the tangle of roses, he got pricked by the spikes and recoiled. Suddenly the Beloved was bounding on the nearby hillside. He was valiant and exploding with vigor and strength. He thrust His hand through the roses as spikes pierced through Him. He took hold of the captive and pulled him out.
Two scriptures came to mind in regards to this vision. The first was Rev 3:14-22, Jesus’ message to the Laodicean Church. He calls the people to respond to Him and to recognize their needy state.
The 2nd scripture was Song of Songs 2:8-13. The lover is bounding on the hill and comes down to peer through the lattice at his love. He calls her forth.
I go on in my journal in an attempt to interpret the vision. I will not share the interpretation because it reveals more of my blindness at the time than my insight. I went on and on about my concept of self and resistance to pain–ex-gay ideology that I attempted to massage into my psyche and past. So much of the ex-gay process for me included creating a new personal mythology based on the template the ex-gay therapists and ministers provided.
Years later the image of the walled garden with flowers and killer spikes seems much more like the tomb-like closet I locked myself in for decades. The flowers hid the spikes, but any attempt to escape caused me fear and pain and suffering. It seemed so much safer contained in that confined garden with lots of pretty flowers. Flowers but no fruit.
As a Christian I long desired to see the fruit of the Spirit in my life–self-control, faithfulness, patience, goodness, peace, joy, love, kindness, and gentleness–in that order. But all those years going to church, going to ex-gay support groups, crying out to God to help me to put to death a part of my sexuality, seeking holiness and closeness with Jesus, begging, pleading, believing God for the strength to box in my desires led to quite the opposite. I grew a garden of bitter fruit–recklessness, depression, fear, doubt, shame, compulsive behavior, secrecy, impatience, despair, and faithlessness.
After 17 years, I tried something different. I accepted that my attractions to guys were normal, not evil and not something that could be changed or contained. I grew to understand that my sexuality, gay and all, was not a curse or a mistake but one of God’s many gifts to me to use and enjoy responsibly. I came out not only as gay but as ME, and with that coming out came joy and peace and patience and integrity and creativity and life!
Thank God I escaped that floral-lined cell. Thank God that I opened myself up to the Beloved, that one who allows me to be real and true and free.
Jesus said that you shall know them by their fruits…
Happy Coming Out Day!