I run across negative anti-church/God attitudes among queer folks all the time, especially white queer folks. I know when I perform one of my shows in a gay-affirming church, no matter how many rainbow banners they have furled out front, some queer folks won’t step foot into a church.
Not because of hatred, but because of hurt. Judy Shepard said it best, “Church hurt is the worst kind of hurt”.
I often hear the stories of people who have been through “ex-gay” ministries. Afterwards they often try to sort out their faith, and many, like jilted lovers, end up walking away from the very relationship they wanted above all others, a relationship with God.
Last week I had coffee with a Love in Action survivor. We both live in Connecticut now but had entered the Memphis-based “ex-gay” program on the same day nearly 10 years ago. He spoke about how after years of attending anti-gay Christian churches, “ex-gay” ministries and then Love in Action, he could not open up the Bible any longer. He sought with all his heart to find transformation through Jesus Christ, but when he realized that change from his same-sex attractions could not happen (and experienced the subsequent rejection from church folks) he struggled to hold onto his faith.
I’ve been bitter towards Christianity for the past few years. My heart has been hardened, and I’ve been carrying around this tremendous weight of anger inside of me. I was so hurt, but part of me longed for the old days. The days when I was so sure that God was up there in his Heaven, and that he loved me, and that everything would be okay. I wanted to believe like that again so bad… but I was scared. I was scared to go back to Christianity, because I was so scared of getting hurt again. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn.
Chris from Liverpool, England sent me some of his story to post on my Homo No Mo Survivor’s page.
I too am a survivor of the ex-gay movement. I was brought up in a very religious background and felt ashamed I was attracted to other men. I often felt suicidal and had massively low self-esteem.
After casual, empty encounters with men, I was so empty and I discovered the wonderful “loving” arms of the ex-gay movement. Things were good at first, but as time went on, I noticed that a leader in the group was having a bit of an obsession with me. But I felt so guilty and ashamed of myself that I could have been convinced to do anything.
He was into us having a “David and Johnathan” relationship and it became more and more homo-erotic as time went on. It climaxed in an incident where I ended up being molested and sexually assaulted by him.
So I was left devastated. I went on a massive crusade o(f) removing every shred of Christianity from my life, and I succeeded.
The other day Lisa, a young woman in Connecticut wrote me
I find the ex-gay movement interesting since I’ve been an ex-gay before though I don’t consider myself one now. I try not to get into the religion thing too much but “something” keeps dragging me back. 🙂 I am a ex-Jehovah’s Witness who is lesbian and with that said, I feel like I have to come out twice. Once for being lesbian and a second time for my former religion. Talk about a cross to bear, though I don’t believe in the cross thing, (but that’s another story.)
Over and over hear the stories of lost faith, of longing for faith. Miraculously some folks have been able to inegrate their faith with their sexuality. You find them at the Gay Christian Network at queer affirming faith communities all over and visiting this blog.
But so many more live divorced from the Divine. The effects of rejection have soaked into their souls. They won’t dare go back to their former faith communities and have yet to discover a new way.
“Ex-Gay” ministries like Exodus, “a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian organization promoting the message of ‘Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ'” actually do more to destroy the faith of lesbians, transsexuals, bisexuals and gays than bring about real, lasting liberation. They don’t intend to do so, but they do help free us from the shackles of a fear-based, unworkable intolerant religion. Then sitting in the ashes we ask ourselves the critical question, “Now what?” For some, this is when the adventure really begins.