A year or so ago I came across a video on YouTube from the Oprah Winfrey Show, in which the eponymous host was interviewing religious figures. It was all very Oprah-style, self-helpish philosophy, and one minister, on the topic of homosexuality said, “Being gay is a gift from God.”
Oprah was shocked and visibly impressed. I was incredulous.
Although I was out to all the important figures in my life and relatively comfortable with my own sexuality, I couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow. A gift from God? Seriously? My orientation was a given; God could do with it whatever he liked, and I wasn’t expecting it to change. All the same, being gay didn’t feel like a gift from God, it was a thorn in my side.
If I wasn’t gay I could’ve dated a girl and had a wedding like my friends at home.
If I wasn’t gay I might’ve avoided the rumors and bullying that dogged me all through school.
If I wasn’t gay I wouldn’t have woken up one morning to find an email from family friends asking me why I hadn’t come out to them yet—they’d heard on the grapevine months prior.
It was to me then an inconvenience, and if you had asked me if I would take a magic pill to make me straight, I probably would have said yes. If I was straight my life would be easier, but I figured I would just have to make the best of it.
Since that time my perspective has changed. It hasn’t been one thing in particular, but many small things that have made me think differently. I’ve discovered communities of interesting, thoughtful people like me through the internet and by visiting churches scattered across two continents. It’s meant I can empathise with other people who don’t fit in at churches for some reason or another. I’ve also been able to speak more openly about my faith, often in places that are resistant or hostile to any sort of spiritual discussion at all. Sometimes I speak through the lens of my sexuality, sometimes not.
I see a lot of gay Christian bloggers express a similar sentiment to what I had back then, that being gay is something that only makes their lives difficult and is something you just have to suffer through. Sometimes that’s true, and I understand where they are coming from, but I also have this growing sense that, yes, my sexuality really is a gift from God. I have unique opportunities not open to other people. I have challenges too, but I can live with that.
Back before I came out, I didn’t expect or even want to be in the place being gay has put me. I think a lot of people feel that way about all sorts of parts of their lives, not necessarily their sexual orientation. But even though this isn’t where I thought I’d be, I know it’s okay for me to be here. My circumstances are a privilege, and I want to honour them and the God who has placed me in them.