When I first became truly conscious of my sexual desires towards other boys, I was a fourteen-year-old devout Catholic who attended church every Sunday and believed. I knelt in those pew benches and I prayed. I ask God and Jesus (apparently they are one in the same) for help in a variety of aspect of my life at the time. The first major obstacle was my homosexuality and for good reason.
Christianity says homosexuality is sinful
When LGBT advocates and Christians alike come to point that the bible is fundamentally against homosexuality, they point to Leviticus 18:22 which states: “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is an abomination.” This did catch my attention and did shape part of my view at the time that my attraction to other boys my age was sinful. But as many Christians will also say that the Old Testament was made defunct by the coming of Jesus Christ, the New Covenant and the New Testament.
I took comfort in that the New Testament would provide some proof that what I was in fact, not sinful and not an abomination. It was then that I discovered Romans 1:26-27 as quoted says, “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.”
That was when I first saw it written down in the New Testament that what I felt was perverse. The first time I realised that one of the original leaders in the Church, the mighty Saint Paul believed that I was a perversion. That sent me down a deep black hole for a long period.
This dark period was not helped by my GCSE Religious Education classes that taught us that the Catholic Church didn’t believe being gay was a sin. It did believe that a gay lifestyle is sinful. In the most simple terms, if you don’t act upon your emotional, sexual and romantic feelings that control our daily lives is fine in the eyes of the Church. If you do act upon those feelings, you are a sinner.
This led to me at the age of sixteen considering Conversion or Reparative Therapy. This is the idea that you can overcome your same-sex attractions and live a heterosexual life. I actually came out as bisexual at the age of 16, a few months into attending Cardinal Newman Catholic College in Preston. I fled back into the closet and tried to live a heterosexual life. There was a further relationship with a girl and I almost slept with another. All in the vague hope that I could convince myself I was straight. That I had a choice in the matter.
This all came from the idea that I had to be a Catholic and I had to believe in God.
Conversion Therapy doesn’t work
Conversion therapy doesn’t work. It is unethical, it is dangerous and it does far more damage than many realise. I recently signed a petition to have it banned in the UK and the government responded to that petition saying: “There is no evidence that this sort of treatment is beneficial, and indeed it may well cause significant harm to some patients. It is incumbent on professionals working in the National Health Service to ensure that treatment and care, including therapy, is provided to every patient without any form of discrimination.”
They have, however, chosen not to make it illegal. They will simply strike off anybody who practices conversion therapy. Some may see this as enough. I disagree for the reasons the petition stated which are: “This therapy often includes electric shocks, counsellors encouraging suicide, and damaging ideology linking LGBT+ identities to sexual abuse from family members in early years.
“It is scientifically proven that this therapy does not work.”
I never actually went to conversion therapy. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it and it would have meant coming out earlier than I was ready too. However, I did try and do it myself. I continually tried to convince myself that I was an abomination, I was wrong and I was a sinner.
At the age of seventeen, I considered suicide.
I would never have gone through with it, but the thought was there. This is the common thread that ties much of the suffering caused to the LGBT people by a variety of religions. The depression and pain it leaves in its wake. On the NHS website, it states that rejection by most major religions contributes to our community’s depression and anxiety.
Leaving religion behind
Recently a friend of mine has been trying to convince me to believe in God again and return to the Christian fold. She means well and cares about my apparent immortal soul. Her way of doing this is both through conversation, a Christianity Explored course and a book by author Sam Allberry called Is God anti-gay?
In this book, Sam says this about committed and faithful same-sex relationships. “Whether or not they are in a long-term committed relationship is beside the point; the fact remains that it is wrong and should not be happening.” In other words, if I was to return to the Christian fold, I must return to fighting my emotions as I did when I was a teenager. I must reject the love I have held for the two men in my past. I must reject the attraction I have held for other men. Finally, I must reject the natural feelings granted to me through evolution and biology.
Reject who I am
What was equally fascinating about that section in his book, it that Sam feels a need to explicitly state how terrible promiscuous gay lifestyle is as if he felt the need to state the age-old stereotype against the community.
My friend also suggested I check out Ed Shaw. Now what both Ed Shaw and Sam Allberry have in common is that they are both Anglican Christians who feel a same-sex attraction that chooses to reject their same-sex attraction because they feel it is a sin against God. Similar to how I was when I was a Catholic.
Ed Shaw describes himself “as a young man who believes same-sex sexual relationships to be wrong – and yet is often confronted by men who I find attractive, or beautiful.” Ed’s message is similar to Sam’s message. Reject your lustful desires towards others of the same-sex for they are sinful and will destroy your relationship with God.
This thinking is my enemy
This mindset is what drove me and many other within the LGBT community to consider taking our own lives. This all comes from the idea that eternity in heaven awaits those who surrender their free will and what is naturally in order to follow the rules of a non-existent God that were created by men to control the World by removing those they dislike.
The moment I realised this and the moment I realised that not only was I a creature of nature and not sin was when I also realised that God was not a creature of nature but a creature of man’s imagination.
Homosexuality is a form of love
The first time I heard that homosexuality was a form of love simply stated out loud, it was said by my hero who most likely saved my life in many respects, the late and great Christopher Hitchens. Listening to him speak and say that what I was feeling was love and not a form of sin or abomination or perverse made me finally realise that Religion was not on my side, but was indeed my enemy. I will forever be grateful to that man for his work and his words.
The second this is that in the natural world, homosexuality is very natural despite what the religious say. In over 450 different species, homosexual behaviour has been recorded. That is more than 10% of all prevailing species in the World.
Recently I learned of the insult coconut nigger which is used by black folk to insult another black folk who to give up all honour and decency in order to serve the white oppressor. If I could think of a gay equivalent I would use it against those who surrender their true nature in the name of the religion that oppresses them and persecuted them.
The religious LGB who tell other LGB that they are sinners and wrong and should stop being LGB for the sake of their religion (Pussy Faggots, maybe?). I am told to respect these people’s points of view, but I don’t. I will never respect how these people think. When I am asked if I would ever wish to rid the World of religion, I think of these people and I sometimes think that yes I do.