Am I Gay?
For a lot of years I wrestled with that question.
I was attracted to other guys. Growing up I’d been involved in sexual experimentation with other boys, and as an adult, I had some sexual encounters with other men. I fantasized about men and thought about finding a guy for a long term relationship.
But did that mean I was gay?
At the same time, I was also a Christian. I had come to know Jesus at a very young age. I read and studied the Bible. I prayed, worshiped and met with other Christians. Most importantly, I wanted to live a life that pleased God – to follow Jesus and become more like Him.
A large part of my identity was rooted in being a Christian and in trying to do the right things. So for years I tried to ignore the attractions and fantasies that I would sometimes act out on. I tried living as a good Christian. But the struggle was getting more and more difficult.
Maybe I was a gay Christian. That idea, however, didn’t square with what I knew about the Bible and what it said about our sexuality: God created humanity male and female; God designed sexual expression to be between a husband and wife; masculinity and femininity are complementary.
In my mid-twenties I attended a support group for men and women with unwanted same-sex attractions. I walked into my first meeting, and the group was discussing the question of identity: Was our identity based on our attractions? Did our feelings and desires define us?
As I listened to the teaching and discussion, I realized that homosexuality was not who I was. It did not define me at the core of my being. I also saw that I had focused a lot of time and energy on trying to not be gay, and that it might be better to focus on who I really was. I thought: If I’m not gay, then who am I?
Each one of us, no matter what our struggle, comes into the world as a boy or a girl. It’s the first thing we notice and the first question people ask about a newborn. Being male or female is a core part of who we are. But it’s also something we understand and grow into as we interact with the world around us. And each one of us is born with a personality, with gifts and talents. These impact how we think of ourselves, too.
We are also impacted and shaped by our experiences and by how we interpret and respond to those experiences. A boy who’s abused might come to see himself as a victim, as someone who deserves bad things. A girl with a strong, domineering father and a weak, passive mother might reject femininity, including her own femininity. After all, who wants to be a doormat?
The world around us, and how we respond to it, also influences our identity. For example, a person born 200 years ago would never have asked the question, “Am I gay?” That kind of language didn’t even exist back then and wasn’t part of that world. Homosexuality wasn’t considered an identity; it was an attraction or a behavior. Our modern world has made it into an identity. Many people today think about “being gay” as the central part of a person’s identity.
Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived, and He said that the way a person thinks and feels and chooses in his heart will shape that person into who he becomes.
So that was one of the choices I made: With God’s love and empowerment, I would think about myself they way He did. I would allow God to remove all the old labels that had been placed on me or that I had placed on myself: Sissy, victim, gay, homosexual, sickly, weak… There were even more, but I think you get the idea.
I would also ask God to tell me who I was. After all, He created me, saved me, loved me and adopted me. This was by no means an easy process, letting the old labels go and seeing my identity as God does. I’m still learning and growing, still embracing my God-given identity: I am a man. I am God’s son. I am deeply loved by my Father. I’m a husband and a father. I’m a follower of Jesus.
That’s who I really am.
See How I Found Hope