Elizabeth

Lesbian for 9 years. Changed 36 years ago.

“I grew up in Auckland going to various churches, so I know what it is to discover I was homosexual in a church environment. The internal conflict about what I believed and how others would judge me was overwhelming. In the end, my desire to be with another woman won and I left the church.

Having tossed my faith in, I now totally embraced life as a lesbian. My first relationship was so compelling and obsessive that I thought I had found my soulmate. I experienced an all-consuming connection with this woman, and it overrode any intent I had to live as person of faith, even though, I had enough evidence to believe that God existed and that the Bible was his Word. Now I had the confusion of trying to understand what I saw as divine cruelty in creating me lesbian and yet condemning me to rejection.

When my ‘soul mate’ left me for someone else, I was crushed. However, now I had no doubt that I was homosexual. I had a repulsion toward men and had found where I fit amongst my lesbian friends. I now lived with the hope of finding my ‘miss right’. However, after several relationships, some longer term than others, I had come to a point where I didn’t dare to love as it led to too much pain. I had lost all illusions that I was going to find life with a woman, but now I believed that I was truly trapped by my orientation.

I felt that there had been some biological mix up and I was really a male soul in a woman’s body. I would have certainly had physical reassignment, except that I was far more afraid of my mother’s reactions, than I was of God. God did not seem fearsome to me, but rather remote, like my philosophical father. If I had been young today, I would no doubt have been identified at a young age and encouraged into that process. I am so grateful that in my years, this was not even hinted at.

At the age of twenty-eight I had reached a stalemate. I was so ingrained in the belief that I had been ‘born that way and couldn’t change’ that I was contemplating suicide. The future alone and aging as a lesbian and now an alcoholic, looked bleak to me. 

During my time living in the hope of finding my female partner, I was using drugs, drinking and this resulted in my having anxiety and physically experiencing shakes. I went to a psychologist who in asking about my origins discovered that I had been Christian in my younger years. She quickly decided that this was my problem. That I needed to embrace my sexual identity as I was ‘swimming against the flow.’ I was perplexed about this as I had no issue with being lesbian at the time and was out and proud. She never once asked me about my drinking habits!

Because I had been fully indoctrinated by popular cultural messages, I did not believe that I could change. However, a dim flicker of light remained, urging me to consider that perhaps I could find the God I had turned from. I asked him if he could somehow show me if this might be possible. If God really did exist and if he reached out to me, then I was ready to toss all hope for finding any good human love relationship. I hadn’t succeeded in this area very well at all so I decided that I would be content to be single and sort my life out with God alone.

If God was willing, then I would leave every premise I had and simply follow him, trusting that he is good and that he could redefine me anyway he wanted. If God did not answer, then the only logical action for me was to end it all and the idea of jumping off the Auckland harbour bridge was one option I had contemplated. If gay rhetoric was absolute, then I was trapped and the belief that I couldn’t change held me in despair.

However, God did reach out to me in a rather amazing way, answering my one last desperate prayer by sending someone on that evening to talk with me and help me back to a life of faith. He was a gentle loving Christian that I had known years before. I was able to talk to him about all the underlying pain, as well as admitting my own wrongs and many of these issues were not about my homosexuality but were more about many other things. 

I had no reparative therapy. No one counseled me. I simply walked away from the life I had been leading and sought my help from God. Going back to church became a new magnificently life-breathing and fresh new start. I did not come back to God to become ‘straight’. I came back to follow Jesus. I wanted to be directed or changed by the Bible and by what I sensed God wanted from me, rather than any other opinion. I had lost my faith in cultural messages that had led me to the brink of despair.

I began to learn how to be the woman that God had created. He had not made a mistake with my gender, and he could show me how to be the person he had intended me to be. Being in a church that held to conservative biblical beliefs was a life saver for me, along with the nonjudgmental way that people encouraged me in my own decisions. I was helped by prayer from many as well. Later, I married, but this certainly was not my aim and I was as astonished as anyone that I could have come to such a decision.

The greatest help for me was reconstructing why I was as I was. There were many factors in my developing childhood. As I looked back, I could see that my affections had been for women from as early as I could remember. This was one of the self assessments that made me believe that I must surely have been, ‘born that way’. I now do not believe that and can see clearly how my orientation was formed from the earliest years and resulting in the feelings I experienced in adulthood. If I had been able to go to a counsellor, this process of working through early life traumas would have been an easier journey, and it makes me sad to think that others will be denied any hope of help from counselling.

I had to come to terms with my mother’s damaged personality and as an adult I was able to see her illness for what it had been. Forgiveness for her verbal and emotional abuse came slowly. My father had coped with the family dramas by simply not being around. I had barely any relationship with my remote father and certainly no endorsement from him of who I was as a female. 

I am not saying that this is the pattern for everyone, as everyone has a different journey and there is no one pattern. But after finding help from research and connection with other ex lgbt people, I could now understand and unravel my own story. At twenty-eight, I finally realised that no human can complete us. Now, I no longer wanted to identify my life around my sexuality. My plan was to live celibate and be a follower of Jesus, doing whatever he gave me to do. However, God’s plan for me included marriage which has now been decades long and has been a faithful and good union. 

Some of my gay friends led short lives and this is very sad, as I knew those who self destructed were not ones that felt unaccepted by society, but were those who like me, wanted ‘out of out’ or who had been so bruised by what were often intense and unhealthy relationships. Unfortunately, because it is now considered bad to let people discover that many people do change identities and life directions, these friends never knew that perhaps there was hope of a different life for them too.   

I feel it is harmful and unloving to not give people the right to make their own choices, find help, and hope in a God who is able to change anyone. Forcing people to have only one option, to accept their homosexuality hurts the many that are like me. We are now seen as the enemy, even by some churches.

Silencing post-gay voices will be a sad day as it denies freedom from what human feelings may dictate and freedom to be who God intended, within his design and will and it refuses the right to self-determination.

 
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