A Different Truth
I attended a "Developing a Healthy Gender Identity" workshop at Topeka Bible Church on Sunday night, May 1st. Topeka Bible Church is one of the most conservative churches in Topeka. Just a bit left of Westboro Baptist. The workshop was facilitated by Ricky Chelette, executive director of Living Hope Ministries (Texas).
I listened to this man explain his thoughts about what causes homosexuality. I listened as he said that homosexuality was wrong. I listened as he said that gay men were emotionally equivalent to a child between 4 and 10-years-old. I listened to the familiar barrage of the word, “lifestyle”, and the proclamation as fact that all gay men have many, many partners.
According to Chelette, homosexuality is caused by young boys who are sensitive, and are not able to connect to their “rough and tumble” fathers. This causes the boys to identify with their mothers, while wanting to be like the rough and tumble boys, for whom they develop a sexual attraction through masturbation. Then, eventually, they meet another lonely sensitive boy, and they try to fill the void in their lives through sex. When that doesn’t work, they find other partners, and other partners, and so on.
Of course, in this theory, it is not possible for a gay man to be connected with Jesus, because if he were, he would see the evil of his ways and repent. The horror of this theory was multiplied by the 300+ attendees, many of whom were repeatedly shaking their heads up and down.
I was shaking my head too, but not in the affirmative. I left at the break, about 1 1/2 hours into the 2 1/2 hour program. I knew that I would not have a chance to present a "truth" different than what was being presented as fact. It seemed purposeless to expose myself any longer. I missed the part where Chelette talked about lesbians. But from what I heard later, it was probably for the best.
I was tired, and my heart was sad, and I knew I had a brake light out on my car. I had removed the faulty bulb earlier in the day, so I drove to Wal-Mart to buy another. There was a cart left in the parking spot I pulled into, but I managed to get my car well enough into the space. I took the cart back to the store so that it wouldn't be left in the parking space for the next customer.
I found the replacement bulb. I had to buy two, even though I only needed one. I found the closest check out aisle - the 10 items or less aisle - and the lady in front of me had no less than 50 items. I waited patiently for her to get through. None of these things bothered me in the least. I was in a daze. It was like being there, but not being there. My mind still struggling with the unconscionable horror I had witnessed a short time earlier. Like watching a horrible accident unfold and not being able to do anything about it. Only this was no accident.
It is likely that one of the young men or women in that sanctuary will believe the message that was being presented there, knowing that they have no choice but to be who they are, and they will finally make the decision to end their life.
Those parents who were shaking their heads up and down will be the ones who have to cut their own child down from some ceiling fixture, or find their lifeless overdosed body, or some other parents’ worst nightmare. Then they will wonder how the gay community could have done this to their child.
I know what kind of pain the message Chelette presented causes for an LGBT person - strikingly exacerbated by an honest belief in God, and the devastation that comes from hearing repeatedly that the God who created you, hates you.
It is the same message that kept me trying to live as a man for nearly 50 years, even though I knew by the age of five that I was female. It is the same message that told me I could not be LGBT and have a relationship with God. It is the same message that caused me to think about suicide every single day.
But one day I walked into the doors of Metropolitan Community Church of Topeka and found a different truth. God loves me as I am. And I discovered that I could be an LGBT Christian. In a heartbeat, I realized just how horribly and completely wrong everyone had been. I realized that God made me exactly the way God intended to make me.
I come out of this experience even more determined to bring about change. It is like the starfish along the beach. If I can even pick up one and give it another chance at life, I will have made a difference. My soul aches today. But the pain I feel is the reason why. It is the very air I breathe. And I will not leave this place the same way I found it.
© July 1, 2011, Stephanie Mott
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