Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Great-Grandmother's Affirmation

Coming out is a difficult thing to do sometimes.  I remember dreading telling my parents, family, and friends, because I didn't know what to expect out of their responses and reactions.  My family was particularly difficult.  For some reason, the idea of being Latino and gay, just doesn't seem to go together in most Latin American families.

My dad was (and still is) very blinded by masculinist notions.  He grew up in a very patriarchal family and maintained a lot of those ideologies in his own personality and way of thinking.  He was definitely the last person I wanted to ever come out to.   My mom on the other hand, grew up in a very matriarchal family, but that didn't make things easier for coming out, my mom's family was also very Catholic and very believing that homosexuality was sinful.

There was one family member that I did confide in during the end of my ex-gay life and the beginnings of my coming out.  It was my great-grandmother (maternal).  My great-grandmother was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and was a very devout Catholic. She also lived for a very long, long time.  The summer I ended my ex-gay treatment and came out, was the summer that my great-grandmother passed away, but it was also the summer I came out to her.

I was very close to my great-grandmother and she was (and still is) my hero, because if there was anything she understood, it was unconditional love.

My great-grandmother was at convalescent hospital that entire summer; she was placed there after suffering from a major stroke.  I would visit her quite often, just to talk to her and to keep her company.  I started to share with her the things I was going through.  She would never respond vocally, be she would look at me and smile or squeeze my hand.

During her last few days, I decided that I was going to finally come out and say the words, "Abuelita, soy gay" (Grandmother, I'm gay).  I got a call from my parents one night telling me to get to the hospital, because her nurses said that it wouldn't be long before she would be passing on.  So I rush to the hospital and arrived there before anyone else.  As I held her hand and prayed with her, I finally spoke those three words to her.  With her last bit of strength she looked into my eyes, smiled, and pulled my hand towards her mouth to kiss it.

That moment for me was so important in my coming out process.  It was the affirmation that I needed to know that I was doing the right thing by getting out of reparative therapy.  It was the affirmation I needed to go on and to seek my own answers to what the Bible says and doesn't say about homosexuality.  It was the affirmation I needed that would give me strength and courage to tell my friends and family.

Next month will mark three years since my great-grandmother passed away, and three years since I stopped trying to suppress my God-given queer identity.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Gay ≠ Christian?

It's one thing that a lot of anti-gay Christians seem to think that I cannot be gay and be a Christian.  But lately I've gotten a lot of resistance from the gay community!  It really feels like reverse discrimination.  Here are the responses and questions I get on a regular basis:

"Why are you a religious studies major?  But you're gay...."

"Why would you go to church, you're gay?"

"You want to be a pastor?  You're gay though..."

It's so disheartening that I meet so many gay and lesbian people that tell me I can't be gay and be a Christian.  The irony is that they are saying the EXACT same thing that anti-gay Christians are saying, that there is no such thing as gay Christians.  So what is makes them any different from one another?  Both groups are sending a negative message.  Both groups are not helping closeted, questioning, and confused people that are trying to understand their identity within the context of their faith.

But what does this mean for us gay Christians?  We are forced into this third category, like we're special cases or something.  A binary system has been set up between being gay and being a Christian.  That is not inclusion.

You can be gay and be a Christian.  If you don't think so then you clearly don't understand the definition of being a Christian or being gay.  Neither one cancels the other out.  So lets stop this exclusion, because all it does is confuse those people that are trying to reconcile their faith and their sexuality, and they can't because there are uneducated people relaying false information that causes harm and confusion.