Being Gay IS a Choice

(originally posted 10/26/09 and on Bilerico.com)

Recently I got a letter from someone I’ve known since childhood, who read my blog and felt compelled to write, “It disgusts me that you’ve made the choice to be Gay and go to Hell, especially with all your theological training.”

There was more, but that was the money quote. Of course, I felt compelled to respond.

“You are exactly right. Being Gay is a choice. It is a choice to respond with honesty, integrity and humility to thoughts and feelings that are not a choice. It is a choice to move away from the dark feelings of fear, self-loathing and dishonesty into the light of understanding, honesty, self-acceptance and respect. I have absolutely no choice about whether or not I am gay- I do have to make choices every day about faithfully following the heart that God gave me, as do you. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I am not as kind or understanding or honest with myself or others about my thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I have thoughts of anger, as I have now, wondering why you feel it necessary to denounce me, someone you “fooled around” with in such an “unholy” manner years ago.

I don’t ask you to understand me, just to accept my experience. Maybe it’s like you never understanding how I could love broccoli when we were kids. Unexplainable, but you never questioned my sanity or the state of my soul because of it. I’m going to say that this is exactly the same thing. Broccoli lovers all over the world can’t explain why they enjoy eating broccoli, they just know they do. And so it is with my heart.

After years of struggling with guilt, shame and fear, I finally came to the simple conclusion that being gay is my honest reality. This was an understanding arrived at through years of self examination, pain and soul searching- it was not the product of indoctrination or brainwashing.

We all make choices. We can choose to feel better by making someone else feel bad, to condemn rather than try to understand, to be right or be happy. I’m sure you have made some choices I will never understand, but I hope I can, at least, give you the benefit of an attempt at explanation. That’s what I hope. That’s my goal. Because living my life in a way that’s faithful to my heart- well, that is the choice I want to make every day.”

47 comments on “Being Gay IS a Choice

  1. […] allow the coward who wrote it to have the last word. And maybe I could change that nasty energy. It worked before. So here […]

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  2. jules says:

    No. It cannot ever be about being faithful to YOUR own heart. You need to be faithful to the word of God, FIRST ….”Seek first the kingdom of God” etc….
    Why does God condemn gay behaviour? – Because it goes against His plan for you. Loving a woman and having children is what He wants for you. Just do it, but if you can’t then celibacy and chastity is what is asked of you. Don’t fool yourself any longer. Love your body as a man and do what men were born to do.
    sex = life- creating: we are co-creators with God. Being gay is not creating anything except rejection of ones own body’s purpose= rejecting God’s will. Don’t do that. Here is a site that may help you http://johnheard.blogspot.com/
    May God grant you right judgement and courage.

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    • It must be so lovely to have all the answers. Did you even read what I wrote? I am explaining that from the deepest part of me, the part that God lives in, has created and loves, is my sexual identity. It’s no different than yours except that you have more people (usually in power) on your side of the experience. and don’t get me started with the inerrancy of scripture…Telling me to go have sex with a woman is so strange, I don’t know where to begin.To me your letter is filled with anger, fear and arrogance. You do not try to understand, you simply condemn. That in itself was condemned by Jesus. To quote a friend:”I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that ‘we love the sinner but hate the sin.’ That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.” ~ John Shelby Spong (retired Episcopal Bishop of the diocese of Newark) I will pray for you every day.

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      • jules says:

        I don’t condemn , only God judges. And scripture is the inspired word of God. I’m neither fearful of gays or hate them. I love you , a stranger, enough to tell you the truth. God created Man and woman and their reason for having sexual organs is to create life. What a beautiful gift from God. I love you enough to share this with you. Not to degrade you or judge you. We are all called to live as Jesus did. in purity, chastity, love compassion…etc… but never rejecting our purpose to create. But some are called to celibacy , prayer and worship.
        Your answer to me made me sad . I just wanted to share with you what God truly wants of us.
        God grants us all wisdom
        Jules

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  3. Cliff Hanger says:

    Jules. If there is a God who has a plan and is determined to condemn anyone who goes against that plan, then I think it’s terribly arrogant to think that it’s your responsibility to do God’s job in the meantime. If you truly believe in God then have faith that God will carry out God’s own plan. Don’t fire God. Let God do the condemning, and you just stick to…whatever it is that you do.

    Greg. Rock on.

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    • Thanks, Michael.
      If God creates everyone for a purpose, and, after self-reflection and much work to discover that purpose one also comes to the understanding that they are gay, I think it means that gay people are created to help other people expand their ability to love, to challenge the simplistic and often arrogant position taken by fundamentalists who quote words from scripture without having lived a life open to the creativity and surprise of a God who loves beyond the ability of words to express. I choose to look at the person of Jesus, to take the example of his words, actions and life- which lives, breathes, moves and evolves, just as love does. That’s freedom, not law.
      Words are fine, but they do not comfort me or affect me the way compassion does. and the compassion of Jesus is some of the most powerful stuff in the Bible.
      We are all created to help each other love better. Quoting scripture to me doesn’t help me see anyone as a person, it just gives me words. Speak from the heart, and I will respect that, always, even if I don’t agree. I simply have a hard time when people parrot the bible- it’s too easy.
      And that is not love.

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      • jules says:

        Jesus Himself upheld the law of God. Do you follow Him?
        The NT does not contradict any of the moral principles of the OT and Christ revealed the Father’s Will to His followers – Theology 101.

        jules

        Like

  4. MIchael says:

    Why is it that “God hates gays” is the very 1st thing that people use against gays? I would LOVE proof of that. I am Gay. I was raised Catholic and I was ALWAYS taught that God loves all of his children and we were ALL made in GOD’S IMAGE.

    I had this same debate a while back. People were tossing the Leviticus readings at me. I find it funny because in the same section of the KING JAMES version of the Bible it states that anyone who eats shrimp, lobster, crab, clams and so on (shell fish and any fish that does not have scales) that is an abomination.

    Or how when a man’s wife (or any woman in general)is menstruating the man is not allowed to sleep with the woman, while she is menstruating she has to put in a barn away from the animals, and then the hay must be burnt…anything else is an abomination. How many women and men do that?

    I was taught you have to take the Bible in its entirety. You cannot pick and choose which sections to follow and which sections you don’t need to.

    The ONLY part of being gay that IS a choice is the choice to live your live openly and be true to yourself or the choice not to.

    People are so consumed by what is going on in the bedroom of others.

    For that matter it must be nice for heterosexual people to SHOVE their “CHOICE” to be straight down everyone else’s throat. I mean It is impossible for me to walk down the street, go to the mall or go to a movie without seeing heterosexual people kissing and hugging and expressing their love for each other and their “choice”.

    If I walk down the street and hold my boyfriend’s hand all of the sudden I am “Shoving my “CHOICE” to be gay down their throat and i risk being beaten up or harassed. How ironic is that things that most heterosexual people take for granted gay people cannot?

    Sorry I just had to say my piece lol

    Like

  5. Sherri Kay says:

    Jules, there is nothing more aggravating to me than people hiding behind scripture to do their own bidding. The struggle of being openly gay is not one that I’ve had to experience. It sounds to me like you haven’t either; so my question to you is how do you know? Do u imagine people that are openly homosexual signing some contract with the devil? Do u really write off anyone who is honest with themselves about their so called “sins” because you are equal to GOD?
    Also, how do u explain impotency or sterility? If we are created simply to procreate then why would god allow these occurrences? Would u denounce your own son or daughter if they discovered their own reproductive inadequacies? They cannot perform the bidding of god, therefore they are insignificant?

    Ignorant people get under my skin.

    Greg, I love you dearly. I cannot fathom the depths u must search to within yourself, on your particular journey. I respect that u are honest and hope that the simple fact that we share blood is enough that your honorable traits will somehow rub off on me. Keep writing!!

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    • jules says:

      Sherri, scripture lights my way . Jesus is the way, truth and life. He goes before me and I try to follow , never hide.
      Why does God allow for suffering, or disorders…etc… because He wants us to follow Him. Not follow the wide road that misleads us, but the narrow, that leads to Him. We all have a cross. Some are heavier than others. If you love your brother enough you lighten his burden- but why tell a lie and enable him to live in sin? Is that what God wants? No.
      Jules

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      • What you see as a lie, I see as compassion.
        What you see as sin, I see as integrity.
        And believe me, I haven’t come to take this understanding lightly. It is the result of fearless and rigorous self examination.

        Like

  6. jules says:

    Have you ever heard of “false compassion”? Bishop Fulton Sheen put it very well in a sermon once. He makes a very good point.

    I’m sure you did a lot of soul searching. But what won in the end? God’s will or yours?
    Take care DGS our earthly life is short.
    jules

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  7. jules says:

    How so? All I said is OUR earthly life is short. Which is true. No time to waste doing the Lord’s Will.
    Relax! And try not to attack people who love you enough to tell you the truth.

    Jules

    Like

    • Jules,
      I have spent a lot of time trying to frame a response to you which would be compassionate and have the integrity of my faith and experience behind it.
      But I think I’ve already done so in the articles I’ve written, and in the responses I’ve given- even though many of them exhibit frustration, I still am unswayed by your proselytizing and your often condescending and patronizing responses to me. I don’t need to defend myself or my positions to you- all I asked for was an open mind. All I got was a relentless refusal to try to understand. I had conflicting feelings about freedom of speech vs the lives of people who have attempted or succeeded at suicide or self harm because of many of the ideas you have repeated here.
      The lives won.
      If your comments are helpful or supportive (based on my perspective, because this is my site) they will be posted. If not, they will trashed.
      I wish you only the best, and will continue to pray for you daily.

      Like

  8. […] been a bit of an exchange in the comments on my post Being Gay IS a Choice in the last few weeks. I loved the dialog, but was increasingly bothered by the intolerant […]

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  9. Not This Planet says:

    Sure, I can, if I so desired, get into this discussion about God’s plan and following Jesus and all that jazz, but it’s Saturday morning and time to add some levity into the situation. For gay and lesbian people, having sex with the opposite sex just feels wrong. It is certainly not a choice to be gay; it just happens. I’m sure whatever God anyone might believe in wants people to be happy; certainly you believe that God is a loving, benevolent God and surely would not want people to go through life living a lie to make you happy and meet your beliefs. This is what is so hard for me to understand: People are persecuted for their religious beliefs all over the world. Drunk driving kills thousands of Americans every year. Elder, child and spousal abuse is rampant. Millions of Americans are in jail for murder, rape, kidnapping, burglary…destroying innocent lives. Thousands of innocent lives are being lost in wars. The jaywalking problem is just getting out of hand. And on top of all this, there’s an active volcano just waiting underneath Yellowstone Lake to blow us all to bits when it decides it’s tired of being dormant for so long.
    Please, Dear, everyone is entitled by the gift of life to have an enjoyable sex life; it’s part of being human. Oh, and don’t think you are immune…you know it’s possible that someone you love, perhaps a child or grandchild, could be gay and perhaps then you will realize that it truly is a choice of heart. Spend time making your little corner of the world a better place for all and stop worrying about whom people like to have sex with.

    Like

  10. Maenad Widdershins says:

    Dearest Greg,
    While it’s been many years since we’ve seen each other — I have been poking around on your blog, and bravo to you for your courage and thank you for sharing your writing with the world — and your willingness to share the scary comments as well. I marvel at your ability to respond calmly and sensibly — I would be out buying new computer components because I would have thrown them across the room.

    It is sad to see the negativity thrown at you by some of the people that we probably both went to school with. I’m sorry to see that their professed spirituality doesn’t include much compassion for others.

    As for me — still not sure where I land spiritually (we once had a long conversation where you tried to convince me that God existed), but know that you are welcome in my home and at my table anytime you are in Seattle (at least through this school year — a relocation is in our future).

    Peace and Health
    Beckner

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  11. michele says:

    this is beautiful – Greg – I thank you for being so open and honest. The sad thing is – 15 years ago – I was Jules. Thank you God for showing me the real truth about who you are and how you love!!

    Like

  12. TCJ says:

    Hi DGS. I found your blog while reading up on some proposed legislation in MT. I didn’t even get a chance to read it before the title “Being Gay IS a Choice” caught my attention. I read your account and the whole of the comments and exchange. Horray for you and for all mankind! Your dialogue with your old friend Jules is so enlightening. I know people who seem to share Jules perspective and now I can simply send them to your blog for some heavy-duty edification.

    It seems to me that religion is one way for people to cloak or hide a basic, visceral discomfort with homosexuality. People might not need to hide behind religion if they could simply own their own feelings – get comfortable with their own feelings. It’s OK for heterosexuals or others to feel grossed out even by the idea of homosexual sexual activity. But, sexual activity is private – and so it does not need to be examined or approved by others in society . So, let’s just get comfortable with getting real about discomfort. And get on with life.

    Like

  13. Matthew Parada says:

    Hi. I too believe feelings are the truth. If you’re gay, denial is not a way to heaven.

    We created the idea of being gay is wrong.

    SLAVERY IS WRONG.

    A GOD THAT ALLOWS SLAVERY IS NOT GOD.

    THAT’s My Two cents.

    Like

  14. Gail Dickert says:

    So well said and your responses to any criticism are honorable and clear. Very happy to have come across your page today! You may find yourself among friends at my blog as well. Many blessings to you, my friend! Much love!
    gail
    http://www.rescuejesus.wordpress.com
    http://www.facebook.com/homospirituality

    Like

  15. Josey says:

    Sure, I can, if I so desired, get into this discussion about God’s plan and following Jesus and all that jazz, but it’s Saturday morning and time to add some levity into the situation. For gay and lesbian people, having sex with the opposite sex just feels wrong. It is certainly not a choice to be gay; it just happens. I’m sure whatever God anyone might believe in wants people to be happy; certainly you believe that God is a loving, benevolent God and surely would not want people to go through life living a lie to make you happy and meet your beliefs. This is what is so hard for me to understand: People are persecuted for their religious beliefs all over the world. Drunk driving kills thousands of Americans every year. Elder, child and spousal abuse is rampant. Millions of Americans are in jail for murder, rape, kidnapping, burglary…destroying innocent lives. Thousands of innocent lives are being lost in wars. The jaywalking problem is just getting out of hand. And on top of all this, there’s an active volcano just waiting underneath Yellowstone Lake to blow us all to bits when it decides it’s tired of being dormant for so long.
    Please, Dear, everyone is entitled by the gift of life to have an enjoyable sex life; it’s part of being human. Oh, and don’t think you are immune…you know it’s possible that someone you love, perhaps a child or grandchild, could be gay and perhaps then you will realize that it truly is a choice of heart. Spend time making your little corner of the world a better place for all and stop worrying about whom people like to have sex with.

    +1

    Like

  16. in a secular democracy, you get to make choices about your life.

    I have never understood why “choice” is supposed to be an argument against gay.

    Like

  17. Kirsten Hangas says:

    Thank you for living your truth with honesty and integrity. I am a campus minister in Montana and was just introduced to your great blog “Sisters at the forefront of equality.” This essay – Being Gay IS a Choice – is beautifully written and I am grateful for your courage.

    Like

  18. Kathy Reim says:

    It is a fascinating aspect of these discussions that they are driven by the desperation embedded in many people of faith that their salvation is dependent on a widening circle of condemnation- of certain behaviors and individuals and groups and… on and on.They cannot live in faith. They cannot be in grace. They cannot leave me and my soul and that of my family alone. They cannot deal with the complexity of the natural world or the human heart that takes our affectional orientation beyond gender because we are more than just male and female. We get small glimmers of the depth of their fear hidden behind rote statements and cliches. It is impossible to picture the society they would create if given a chance. Some of them profess to dislike laws and government but they describe a world that would be more oppressive than the Taliban has been able to put in place or perhaps even imagine. I miss hearing any self reflection or self discovery in their accounts. Everything is turned out towards the “other” and the need to find increasing ways to limit basic rights they enjoy and feel are threatened somehow. Those that are more subtle are more damaging. Fred Phelps does a service by visibly showing where this way of thinking and living plays out at the fringe.The most frightening part is their certainty they understand the scripture and their unwavering belief they should act on it. Humility is never mentioned or revealed. They do not walk humbly with God or the rest of human kind. Unlike the leaders of the OT they call themselves prophets when the ability to be wise had to be acknowledged and seen and felt by others. Thank God there are places of worship and people of faith that live in love and love the rest of us unconditionally. We must celebrate them and put our energy there. You have created a gift here in your courage. Thank you.

    Like

  19. Matteo Masiello says:

    Me: God, do you really hate homosexuals?
    God: No. I don’t hate anyone. I mean, how could I? I created everyone.
    Me: There you go folks. God said it, I believe it.

    Note: This is an excerpt from an ongoing conversation God and I are engaged in.

    Like

  20. Jan Bents says:

    Thank you. Those two words can not do justice to the feelings in me at this moment. As a gay individual who identifies as catholic and regularly goes to church your thoughts here have put me into a sense of calm I haven’t felt in a long time. I was once suicidal and my priest who helped me away from that place died recently. Your words have inspired me in a time when inspiration has seemed to flee like birds in winter. Just as I would offer to you in person, thank you and peace be with you.

    Like

  21. You nailed it! As I used to tell people who asked about my “choice,” “I never chose to be gay. I chose to be honest.”

    Like

  22. Alex says:

    I was a Theology student in college. Dedicated. Trying to find the Truth as a young adult. But left that all behind, including any belief in God because I never found a single merciful or loving individual in the circles I ended up in who could accept the idea of a gay spiritual person or the idea of someone who was gay and a conservative politically. What I decided is that I would rather go to hell (whatever that might be), than to have to be saved and enter heaven (whatever that may be), than have to live forever with those same people. It took until age 50 before I found some peacefulness and sanity in my own thoughts by living honest. Finding this dialog here tonight spoke to me deeply and has strengthened me. Thank you so much, DGS, for sharing and bringing to light the best way I have ever found for dealing with the intolerant. Your words and the words of those echoing similar support have brought tears to my eyes. God bless you all.

    Like

  23. killa smile says:

    Convenient. If its not in Jesus’s plan to have homosexuals around then why did he make them? He’s the Creator of everything, right?
    What bothers me is,ayt, look at it this way. He created the first gay, then He writes in The Holy Bible that its an abomination.After that>> If He didn’t want gays around, why, after stating clearly in Leviticus 18:22 and else where in Scripture that its a sin,why did He still create gays ?Because gays are stil here, and I don’t think they’re about to go very soon.
    What about small children? Like my friend has a 4year old son and we all noticed that he is acting feminine and we just know that he is going to be gay as a teenager? The boy has no idea what being gay means or that he is acting feminine for that matter but as he grow he will realize that something aint right. Who’s to blame now?

    Like

  24. Shawn says:

    As a father, I cannot condemn my child to a place like hell – no matter what my child does he will always be forgiven. There is no condition to this forgiveness, he is my child. I don’t need him to ask for forgiveness. I don’t need him to ‘repent’. I don’t think that this is an unusual sentiment among well adjusted, loving parents with healthy relationships with their children. I would never, under any circumstance take part in my child’s suffering, and I certainly would never under any circumstance ‘condemn’ my child to torture.

    This is problematic in the modern Christian view of God. This understanding of unconditional love is not unique. It is what many parents feel for their children. Yet, we are taught that God loves unconditionally, that God is the Judge and that the result of sin is suffering – presumed to be at the will of God.

    I figure that there are two possible solutions to this problem. That, one, God’s love is limited and inferior to a mortal’s love for his or her children, or that the idea of hell, as we understand it, is fundamentally flawed.

    If God’s love is limited, and that God is willing to participate in the destruction and torture of life as described in biblical text, then I am willing to be sent to hell myself as a martyr – for God is a false god when love itself is greater than God.

    Like

    • Bryan D. Spellman says:

      I received most of my theological teachings from my mother, perhaps a bit ironic in that my father was a minister. Mother taught me that a loving God could never condemn one of his children to everlasting punishment. Never. She also taught me that “Heaven” and “Hell” are human concepts, not divine, and describe the way we live this life we’re given, not any supposed afterlife.

      Like

  25. gamom1972 says:

    I just wanted to say that I appreciate this post and can relate to so much of it. Unfortunately for some, they can not and will not be able to walk in our shoes. Regardless of what anyone says, God loves us and no sin is bigger than any other. All we can do is be true to the self we have been created to be. Very glad this blog was brought to my attention.

    Like

  26. […] last year, doing an event that was sponsored by the ACLU and I met [Montana LGBT and faith leader] Greg Smith and he mentioned his involvement with the Northwest PFLAG association and said, ‘would you ever […]

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