Last week, I did something very few wives ever do: I helped my husband come out (as bisexual) on my blog. It wasn’t a simple “coming out” story. You’d be forgiven for wondering why a married man would need to do that, I suppose. Instead, it was the story of surviving gay conversion therapy. In his case, it was a literal course that was part of a wider LGBTQA+ conversion movement that is literally a mortal risk to LGBTQA+ young people who sit in our churches, some still closeted or questioning. As the Victorian government moves toward a conversion practice ban, and as the Federal Government tosses around a so-called Religious Freedom Act, it was an important topic to get off our chests, no matter how exposed and vulnerable we felt putting it out there.
I’ve got more to say on this matter. I have more to say on what life is like in a mixed-orientation marriage, on how the purity movement that formed our generation’s legalism seems to be rapidly deconstructing and we need a new conversation around the Christian sexual ethic, about LGBTQA+ inclusion in faith and faith communities – about so many things.
But I can’t quite bring myself to string together anything coherent this week because frankly, this moment has been years in the making for me, and decades in the making for him. One needs a bit of a breather after that! I need to sit and watch Brene Browns’ Netflix special on how vulnerability is courage a few more times. But I wanted to take a moment to say this:
Thank you. To those who have messaged us, hugged us as we walked into local venues, or given us your love and support over this journey – thank you. To those who have passed the article on to people who need to read it, or benefitted from/passed on the understanding that “gay conversion therapy” isn’t just a course but an ideology and a movement that is detrimental to the health of LGBTQA+ people – thank you. To those who read and engaged in conversations or thought processes that might be deeply uncomfortable – thank you. To those who’s minds and hearts are set on making faith and church a safe place for all people even though the process will take time and tough conversations – thank you.
We need to continue these conversations even if they make us cringe. We are forever told the parable that paints Jesus as the good shepherd who would leave the 99 to go and find the 1 sheep that was lost. But we halt that conversation a moment too soon, when we should be talking about how we should emulate Christ when that sheep was not lost but excluded on the basis of something it couldn’t change.
Our doors and our hearts should be open wider. I’m living for the day that they are, and I do believe that people and large institutions (like the church across the world) can change. It just takes time and courage. Even as recently as three years ago, I was blissfully unaware that I was one of those people whose courage it would take.
It’s a strange place for me to sit – as the straight wife of a bisexual man. I find myself suddenly hyperaware of the nuance and subtlety of homophobia in churches and faith communities, and of the damage of throwaway statements made in haste. I find myself upset when I see it in movies and TV. I’m told I notice it in ways my husband and my best friend don’t notice (presumably because they’ve heard it all their lives and become desensitised).
I hope you’ll notice it with me.
It is personal for me, because some of the people I love most fly the rainbow flag. When I read the part of the Bible where Jesus tells me to love my neighbour as I love myself, it means I have to grapple with this stuff on a deep level. Becoming an ally has been a deeply personal journey for me because you bet I’d fight tooth and nail for these precious people. But my earnest belief is that anyone who has ever used the phrase “I have gay friends and I love them, but…” needs to go on this journey, too. Loving them means reading the Bible as if you are them, listening to sermons as if you are them.
So yeah. I have more to say on stuff like sex, sexuality, mixed-orientation marriage, inclusion, deconstruction, faith post-deconstruction, and restarting conversations we have long closed about what is and isn’t in the original translations of the Bible. If these are issues that resonate with you, feel free to email me your questions (via the website, or via Instagram, Twitter or my Facebook page). I’m not going to answer any pervy questions because that ain’t yo business. But there are some valid questions out there.
I meant to blog more this week but couldn’t quite clear my head enough to do it. So I just wanted to pop a quick note to say thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to the incredible people who make up my tribe (in terms of readership, social media, and real life)
If you missed my husbands story, you can find it here.
If you missed my video about the tension between a conversion practice ban and a religious freedom bill, you can find it here (and subscribe to my youtube channel while you’re at it).
If you missed my article in why I became an LGBTQA+ affirming Christian, you can find it here. (Yeah, I admit it didn’t tell the whole story as we hadn’t told my husbands story. But it’s a good article, even if I say so myself!)
The place I am in now is that I am more convinced than ever that the church universal is not where it needs to be in terms of loving and embracing all people the way Jesus wants us to. I am more convinced than ever that we need dialogue to go further for those of us who sit in a place of heteronormative privilege and take it for granted.
We need understanding, knowledge, and compassion to reach much further. We can’t stop the conversation here. We need people who think “I can’t be a Christian because I can’t agree with how the church treats LGBTQA+ people” to realise they need to stick around in Christianity, even if it means switching churches.
There’s a lot to say. But the main thing for today is thanks!