Silence Breeds Apathy
Growing up and discovering I was gay was pretty unfortunate turn of events for me. I came
from an area that was not exactly gay-friendly, nor did I have friends or family that were fond of gay people. Though most were not completely hostile towards the gay community, they did not make me believe it was a topic I could confront them about. Long story short, to retain the love of those I loved, I repressed my feelings. Slowly I lost the desire to empathize, love, and connect with others. I was angry at myself for being gay, then bitter, and then apathetic at my situation. I turned my emotions off. That was fine. I didn’t want them. They made everything more difficult anyways. But the truth was that I was not apathetic – I only wished to be.
I was actually desperate for love and acceptance, and not from the gay community but from those that I loved. However, I kept the insecurities on the inside to try to convince myself that I did not need anyone. On the occasions that some emotion did bubble up to the surface, it was hatred and anger towards everything and everyone who drove me into this situation.
Why didn’t they try harder to fix me?
Why couldn’t they tell I was hurting so bad? I was too afraid to be honest with them. While
presenting a hardened exterior, I was self-destructing from the inside out.
It got to a point where all I wanted to do was inflict this pain I felt onto everyone around me. I
wanted them to know how much I was hurting. I thought it would be fun to make them
understand my pain. They deserved it for not trying hard enough earlier. I frequently brought my mother to tears from my indifferent attitude towards life.
All she wanted to do was to make me happy, to let me know I was loved because I was her son. She was distraught and helpless. She thought I was suicidal. I wasn’t. However, I wanted to keep her in that lie, because only whenever she was crying about losing me did I feel the deep love that I desired more than anything. I only felt important when people were pleading to know what was wrong with me. I would shrug them away indifferently or make up some fake issue in order to keep them captivated. I needed attention. I needed to be in control. I was heartless. I had no compassion, no love, no empathy, only a desire to feel loved and accepted.
I did not consider the fact that maybe my family did actually love me, and that my behavior was taking an enormous psychological toll on people who really cared about me. I am responsible for all of the poor decisions I have made. It would be immature for me to point a finger at everyone and everything else and say that you are responsible for my actions. They are not. I am not a victim of them. Mainstream culture encourages me to blame the church for all my shortcomings due to repression. The church encourages me to blame my homosexuality for all my character flaws.
If I honestly believed I could blame the church or homosexuality for everything I have done, I would. But I won’t. It’s not right or true. I only have myself to blame. It was never homosexuality that made me so inhuman - it was just me desperate for love in the grip of fear. But where did the fear originate? The quiet. Satan uses the quiet to his advantage. Most churches I have seen throw out the blanket statement that homosexuality is wrong.
I am okay with the church disagreeing with homosexuality, but it is the lack of further discussion that scares me. Individuals are left to fill in a lot of mental gaps of how we approach the issue of homosexuality on their own. Do we let gay people into the church? Must they repent in order to join? Does the church believe that God hates gays? Will God forgive gay people? Unfortunately, it seems that only the harshest opinions get verbalized, whether they are held by the majority or not. People who would be willing to talk about the issue are no longer are able to voice their opinion, because of the weight the blanket statements hold.
Homosexuality is wrong, and any sympathy towards “the gays” is opposed to the church. People are either afraid or genuinely believe nothing more needs to be said about the issue, and so the church remains quiet. People like me hear these statements, notice a lack of counterpoints, and naturally hide. Of course we do. I hear that I am an abomination and that I do not have a role in God’s work. I hear that because I am gay I am going to hell. I do not want any of the above to be true – I doubt anybody does. Because of the fear of hell, I repressed my feelings. Because of the fear of rejection, kept my mouth shut. Because of fear, I could not tell my family that I needed help.
I could not tell them I wanted help. I needed people to talk to, but everyone was too scared to bring up this issue. The only people brave enough to speak out loud were the ones that supported the extreme view that God despises gay people. I don’t care if it makes you uncomfortable, I don’t care what you believe about homosexuality, simply saying that everyone of a different sexual orientation is evil will never meld the gap between the church and the queer community. What would have helped me the most was honest dialogue about the subject. I wish I would have known that it is okay to be gay and to talk about it.
Whilst silence gave those who were not gay room to fill in theoretical gaps about how to interact and react to the gay community, silence gave me room to unhealthily obsess over how to rid this darkness from my life. Because I saw homosexuality as the pinnacle of my sin, all other actions to me became more or less morally neutral. Compared to me being gay, nothing could be worse. I was unable to focus on fixing the parts of me I could control – my lust, my emotions, my compulsive lying – because I was too focused on what I couldn’t control - my attraction to the same gender.
I became so focused on myself I plummeted into that “apathetic” state where I was truly only desperate for love. Once there, the silence only left me room to perpetuate my bad habits. There was no one there to stop me.
After a long journey of trying to synthesize conflicting information about God, the church, and
myself, I began to look at myself differently. I said screw it. I did not choose to be gay. More so, I do not believe I can ever rid myself of how I feel. I fought for years before I became tired of trying. Maybe I have given up too early or didn’t try hard enough. Honestly, I don’t think either of those are true. When I stopped focusing on destroying myself and began focusing on helping others, I felt a peace that I had never felt before. I suddenly found that life had so much more purpose and value. I was happy to be alive for a change.
It was good to be alive. It was not as if I was filled with meaning and purpose because I was gay. I was not suddenly “endowed with the power and confidence of homosexuality” because I decided to accept myself. It was more as if my sexuality was simply irrelevant. It was a part of me, but it was not what defined me. Eventually, my parents became aware of my sexuality. I will never forget what my mom told me. I braced myself for the inevitable awkward silence followed by the classic barrage of familiar Bible verses. Instead, she stepped forward and hugged me.
You must be so exhausted. I… I was. She held me a little bit tighter. I know you have worked so hard. I am so proud of you. This does not define you. Those were the words I needed to hear 6 years ago. That was the conversation I was too afraid to start. You are so much more than this. I love you. For some of you, this conversation may not seem like much. For others, it may be everything you ever wanted to hear from a loved one. For me, it certainly was. I think that was a discussion that would have saved me from myself, but I was too afraid to ever initiate it. This is the kind of talking that needs to happen. She never said she agreed with homosexuality. I don’t know if she will come to that conclusion.
You don’t have to. But that is the point of honest discussion. It’s not to convince, it is to create mutual understanding. Whether intentional or not, there is a lot of pressure for queer folk to find their identity solely in their sexuality. This is unhealthy. This is what I hope a deeper discussion with the church will to put an end to, because ultimately, your sexuality is not a valid source of identity, no matter what it is. With a staunchly resistant or largely quiet church, finding my identity was difficult. In their own ways, both the church and culture guided me to my identity– I was gay.
That was who I was. However, limiting myself to my sexuality was an insult to myself and my God. I am so much more than that. I was only ever told to accept or reject this part of me in order to move on with my life. I had to pick a side. I was never encouraged, until this moment, to think of myself as more than gay. I have been through gay therapy, read through the applicable Bible verses extensively, prayed, meditated, and begged God to give me a different hand in life, yet none of those made a difference.
Those tactics were focused on me suddenly becoming very straight and living life as a happy, straight individual forever. The only thing that made a real impact in my life was when I heard somebody I love tell me this does not define you. I was able to step out of the lie I had put myself in. I am more than my sexuality. We are more than our sexualities. I do not believe I can ever be straight, but that is irrelevant to the issue. The body of Christ is not achieved by assimilating everybody into one Christian mold, but instead by matching our identities in Christ.