Here are some of my thoughts. I welcome further discussion here.
- “I think it’s stupid,” Michael said. “It doesn’t get better if you’re gay.”- But also dishonest, in retrospect, was our claim in a 1999 issue of XY that “everyone is happier” after coming out.I think it's unwise to generalize the experience of all straight, gay, or ex-gay people. Certainly not all gay people have lives that "get better". I suspect Michael believes that being gay is fundamentally unhealthy, and so for that reason it is impossible to attain well-being while identifying as gay. I disagree with that belief. I also think well-being is complex, varying in both kind and degree. Even if it were true that there's something fundamentally unwell about gay people, it could still be the case that "it gets better" for some gay people.
I believe I have seen at least one person become much healthier and attain a significant increase in well-being while coming out and embracing a queer identity. But I also think it unwise to say "everyone is happier" when they come out--I agree with the article on that point.
As much as some of us may not want to, and as uncomfortable as it certainly makes me, we (allies of LGBTQ people) need to listen to Michael. For the same reason that the church and the society needs to listen to LGBTQ people and allies. One of the messages I've heard from the ex-ex-gay platform is that the church has gone wrong when it has given advice and designed programs based upon a pre-existing theological notion of sexuality without listening to, and taking seriously, the lived experience of queer folk, within the church's midst, as well as out in the world. A theory that we rely on to help us love our neighbors--strangers as well as those like us--which does not take into account the stories of people like Michael is pragmatically inadequte and thus will bear fruit to bad theology and hurtful practice, just as with a theory that does not take into account the stories of ex-ex-gay and other queer people, or those of the families and close friends of queer people, like me.
“God loves you more than any dude will ever love you,” he told me at the cafe. “Don’t put your faith in some man, some flesh. That’s what we do when we’re stuck in the gay identity, when we’re stuck in that cave. We go from guy to guy, looking for someone to love us and make us feel O.K., but God is so much better than all the other masters out there.”
It strikes me that this is good advice for straight women. And if we change it to be about women, it is good advice for straight men, too. I suspect the problem is not being gay or straight, but expecting human relationships (sexual, romantic, or brother-sisterly) to be ultimately satisfying. Honestly, I haven't experienced ultimate satisfaction in relationship with God, or the One, or Jesus, or whatever, either. One part of me susepcts that dissatisfaction is an inescapable part of the human experience (at least this side of the resurrection). Another part of me thinks that if there is such a thing as ultimate satisfaction, a direct relationship with God is the source of such.
And I think I am personally even more susceptible to seeking self-worth and ultimate self-identity in my various theological and political and philosophical labels (including "straight ally") than I am in my sexual identity label.
I believe Christians should constantly submit ourselves to the crucifixion of our identities so to experience the resurrection of Christ within us. My fundamental identity ought to be "in Christ". But that doesn't mean it's false that I love women, so why should it mean it's false that Christian lesbians love women or that gay Christian men love men?
This link belongs with all conversations about the ex-gay movement, as part of the conversation: http://beyondexgay.com/