Sunday, July 13, 2014
Avoiding the Perpetually Dour
Something I wrote today for Quaker Meeting.
Today’s First Day’s Worship began auspiciously. An older man talked first, speaking in mournful, doleful terms about how, much earlier in life, he had prayed to ask God to take away his homosexuality. The effort had failed him and now, late in life, he still held severe reservations about being gay. I must admit I wasn’t entirely sure how to understand his message, which was certainly confessional, though I wished he could have better conveyed his intent by making it twice as long.
For those of you who know me, my bisexuality should come as not much of a surprise. I’ve made no pretense of hiding it and I’ve been open about who I am. I recognize I came of age in a more tolerant time than today’s first speaker. The churches in which I spent my time seemed to think that my sexual orientation was not worth getting upset about and was none of their business in any case. No one told me I was going to hell or told me I was committing a grave, unpardonable sin. I recognize I was lucky to have not necessarily been fraught with years of guilt.
And yet, if I said that I wasn’t bothered by my own sexual orientation from time to time, then I would not being speaking truthfully. That being said, neither does it knock me to my knees. Living a defeated life full of unresolved misery may not be the best solution for anyone with any problem. A transgender friend of mine does not intend to make his life’s example a bleak Shakespearean tragedy. Instead, he tries to live boldly as he is, even though his family background is that of conservative Christianity. Life doesn’t need to beat anyone down into a state of perpetual pain.
What has caused me problems are when I feel a need to conform to a particular standard of masculinity. Though I had athletic ability and excelled as part of my school's sports teams, I could never be male enough for comfort. I’m still more comfortable around women, with whom I can fully relax, feeling no need to respond in uncomfortable ways and without the nerves I always feel otherwise. For all I know, I may in some ways see the world more as a woman does than as a man does.
I have accepted the way that I am, for the most part. I have not lain prostrate before God, begging for a reversal of fate. Each of us learns to accept ourselves as we are, at our own pace. I suppose one might say that I thought God had better, more important issues on his docket. Correcting that I wasn’t straight was not, in my mind, a high priority. Being bisexual for me is a nagging sort of affair, nothing I would consider horribly painful. It was and still remains a constant worry and anxiety, but not a catastrophic illness.
At a different era, I probably would have lived a closeted life, one where my genuine desire for women would deflect attention from same-sex attraction. This is the privilege that many bisexuals have. The Friend who spoke this morning seemed to wonder if God has any real place in his own private anguish and whether he had simply assigned the need out of his own desire for healing power of the Divine. That seems to be a bleak place for me, one I hope no one remains any longer than necessary. God is everywhere, just as he stayed with Jesus as he sweated drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. We are never abandoned, but may we be guided to the proper questions.