“Going back” in ex-gay speak means returning to the gay “lifestyle.” During my years as an ex-gay leader, I rarely said “lifestyle,” but “going back to being gay” was a stigmatizing description that the ex-gay world used to describe those judged as “worshipping the created instead of the Creator.” “Going back” was equated to not “holding firm to the faith” or “gave up their faith to live for sinful indulgences and feelings instead of God.”
I am glad not to be in that world any longer.
But when I was in that world, I was judging those who “went back” from a point of view based on negative assumptions and fear. A fear that I was wrong, that I was missing something. It was easier to reduce their decisions to going backward, as a regression, instead of considering that maybe, just maybe, they had made a healthy decision in moving forward with their lives. It never crossed my mind that it wasn’t a “return to sin” but instead a genuine act of spiritual maturity to embrace and live out their core sense of relational being as a gay person.
Now that I have and am living out what it means to be a gay man of faith, to escape and live beyond ex-gay ideology, I realize that none of us “went back” to anything. We didn’t give in or shut off our spirit, brain, or heart. We set our face forward to engage life in the reality that we are gay. We are not hindered by an unattainable idealistic standard established by religious legalism and conservative cultural expectations. We live in Christ and embrace a complex and beautiful reality. We are God’s LGBT children who cannot be contained by this or that label. We choose to live in freedom, not shame. We live in affirmation and encouragement, not condemnation.
We celebrate who we are in God, and I believe He celebrates our freedom in Him with us.
Interestingly, as I have walked this out, many of the old assumptions picked up during my ex-gay years has proven false.
- I don’t have scriptural amnesia. I still receive life and light from the scriptures. The Bible means more to me now than ever before.
- The Holy Spirit still has this thing of interrupting me when He wants to.
- The gifts and fruit of the Spirit still manifest in my life.
- My 24 years of history as a Christian, hasn’t gone flying out the window. I know and rest in what the finished work of Christ means.
- I am not emotionally dependent on anyone, sexually addicted in any way, reverting to destructive false coping mechanisms. In other words, I am not “handed over to Satan” or an apostate reprobate.
- I don’t feel one ounce of guilt, and love thinking about Mr. Future Thomas-Husband. I already know he is the best ever at everything! 😉 The love in my heart for him is pure; it comes from a healthy place.
- Also, instead of getting all licentious with some hedonistic display of sensuality at a massive drug infused sex party, I stayed home last Saturday night (like I do most Saturday nights) and got all weepy while watching Zootopia!
Now, it is true that I am voting for Hillary Clinton …which is still a little unnerving to think about sometimes.
Nope. I didn’t “go back” to anything. I embraced reality; set my face toward the future…
… and I smiled when I saw Him standing there waiting for me at the open door.
This piece originally appeared on Randy’s blog, Randy.today
photo credit: Tabeajaichhalt, cc0
RANDY THOMAS is an artist, writer, and Online Content & Social Media Manager for a PR company in central Florida.
In his former career as the last Executive Vice President of Exodus International, he contributed to several books and was featured in media outlets around the world. Of course, that was from an ex-gay perspective he no longer promotes or encourages. Randy now speaks out strongly against efforts to “change” a person’s sexual orientation.
Randy came out again in 2015 after 21 years in the ex-gay world, and feels more free than he ever has before.