From “Ex-Gay” to Ex-Boyfriend?

Well, yeah. If your "ex-homo" beau isn’t putting out. That’s the advice you’ll apparently get from a Focus on the Family advice columnist. RawStory clued me in to this tidbit, which appeared on the FoF website but was late removed, in which a woman opines that her ex-gay boyfriend hasn’t fully made this switch, nor is he making any moves on her.

Dear Professor Theophilus:

I am in the strangest, most painful situation I’ve ever found myself in, apart from my parents’ divorce. A young man is pursuing me. He wants to get married, but he’s not, well, firing on all cylinders. What I mean is that he doesn’t find me sexually attractive. In fact, he doesn’t find women in general sexually attractive. He used to suffer from homosexual desires, and he used gay porn. He no longer has homosexual desires, but he doesn’t have heterosexual desires either. He’s not pursuing help to be restored to sexual wholeness, which makes me wonder what he’s really in the relationship for.

… Here’s my question. Does the relationship need to end? I’m getting mixed counsel from my home and college pastors. One says no, the other yes. The "yes" pastor says that God will give the young man sexual desires when the time is right. I know this isn’t the right time for sex because we’re not married. But isn’t it the right time for sexual desires? At my dad’s advice, I’ve ended the relationship, but it’s like torture. We’ve been trying to back away and keep conversation to small talk. It really hurts. It doesn’t feel right, but I know my feelings deceive me.

Maybe God is saying "wait." Maybe He’s saying "no" and teaching me some hard lessons about men and His will for my life. I’ve been in daily prayer and repentance. I’ve been reading books on homosexuality. I’ve been shaken in my womanhood and find myself wondering what true beauty is.

Anything you say will be helpful, so let it loose.

Reply

Okay, I’ll let it loose. Your intuition is right, and the pastor who told you to stick with the fellow should have his head examined: The relationship has to end. Marital love involves union between two whole persons, total self-giving, which cannot be separated from sexual self-giving. If the man doesn’t want eros, then he doesn’t really want marriage; he only wants the legal form of marriage. You are right to be suspicious of his motives.

… I know you feel compassion for the young man, and that’s not wrong. True compassion, though, should lead you to desire his true good, and this relationship is no more good for him than it is for you. As you remarked yourself, he’s not trying to get well. In fact, he is using you. The only question is in how many different ways he is doing it. You see, he’s not pursuing you because he is seeking sexual wholeness; he’s pursuing you as a substitute for sexual wholeness, as a way to keep from facing the fact that his emotions are still not in order. I can’t help but wonder what else he is up to. In these books you are reading on homosexuality, look up the concept of an "accommodation marriage" — a marriage of convenience which is kept up merely as a front.

Well. Where to begin?

The problem I have of late, as a blogger, is that I come across stuff like this that I want to write about but that I also want to tie in to about half a dozen other things; like the reading I’ve been doing lately on child-rearing, the deep-seated fundamentalist belief in the necessity of "breaking wills," and the larger implications for our culture and society. But that turns into dissertation, which is more than any blog post can handle. So I’ll try to hit the high points here and let the rest fall where they may.

The Rawstory headline asks whether this is about the ex-gay boyfriend being "broken" and thus not seeking "sexual wholeness." Let’s just come out and say it, shall we? If anything it was the "recovery" from homosexual desires that "broke" him in the first place. He was sexually whole in the first place, but most likely in a place where people wouldn’t let him be whole. It reminds me of the question I asked in another post, that was also a book review. 

At the time, the lyrics left me a little confused. If this god used ”broken things“ who did the breaking? And why did he require the breaking? After reading Jesus Land, I have an idea of the answer to the first question, but I’m no closer to an answer on the second.

The answer I’ve come to is that people just like breaking things, particularly other people, because they were "broken" in some way themselves. So why should anyone else walk around whole?

After a long and pointless discussion about whether gays can "change," this points out something that keeps coming up in too many "ex-gay" stories to ignore. Clearly the young man in the story above has made a monumental effort to change his behavior, including finding a girlfriend. If the letter is to be believed, he’s managed to repress his feelings for the moment. As I’ve said before, I learned a long time ago in recovery circles that "when you bury your feelings, you bury them alive," and sooner or later they find their way back out again. So, in a sense this young man would be a ticking time-bomb of a husband if the young woman were to marry him anyway. 

But wait a minute. Is the whole business of attraction supposed to be this hard? Straight folks, help me out here. Was your attraction to the opposite sex something you ever had to work at much? Was it even something you had to think about? Is it something that takes a lifetime of effort to maintain? Could any amount of effort on your part turn your attraction to your own gender? How long would it take to reach that point and maintain that attraction? 

See where I’m going with this? Is sexual orientation supposed to amount to a lifelong Sisyphean task; a rock that you push uphill, only to watch it roll back down, for your entire life? 

Were I to meet the young man in question, I’d probably invite him over to have a cup of coffee and chat. I’d probably introduce him to the family and tel him "Look, stop trying so hard.  You’re letting a lot of people make this more difficult than it should be."

"Broken things and people were usually whole in the past. They weren’t made broken. Someone broke them deliberately, when they should have been left as they were in the first place. They were whole before. And so were you."

The trick is to realize that, go back to that, and not let yourself be broken again.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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