Dear young person,
You might be 12, 15, 18, 21 or 25. You might be just beginning to understand your difference, or you may have been struggling about it for some time. More lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people than you realised totally understand the struggle you’re going through. No matter how alone you might feel, you are not alone.
At 69, I definitely have some life experience under my belt. I grew up in a society that thought homosexuals were perverts, deviates, psychopaths, and child abusers. Mental health professionals believed they could cure are “illness”. Gay and lesbian people suffered cruel treatments such as electric shock treatments or years of psychotherapy. Police entered homes, without a warrant, and arrested people on the suspicion that they were homosexual. Hundreds of thousands of people were imprisoned or institutionalised. We now live in the 21st century. In civilised countries, these are now things of the past. Many of us wasted years of our lives unnecessarily, in constant internal torment because we believed the lies.
- If they tell you, “you are broken”, they are wrong.
- If they tell you “it’s unnatural”, they are wrong.
- If they tell you “you’re deceived”, they are wrong.
- If they tell you “God doesn’t love gay or trans people”, they are wrong, very, very wrong.
- If they tell you “you can never act on it”, don’t believe them. Because what they are saying is, you can never fall in love or have a committed relationship. You can actually have both.
- If they tell you, “you’re an abomination”, ignore them. Anyone quoting the King James version of the Bible these days is totally out of touch and a dying breed.
- If they tell you, “I love you but…………” don’t believe them. Remember, God’s love is unconditional.
- If they tell you “you can change from gay to straight”, they are wrong, don’t believe them. God is no more interested in your orientation than the colour of hair, eyes or if you’re left or right-handed. What is important to God is the life you live.
You’ll have church leaders, Christian family and friends, believing they are doing the right thing, telling you things that are not true about you….but they are wrong…… very very wrong. They’ll quote Bible verses about Sodom and Gomorrah, Leviticus, Romans and I Corinthians, but these aren’t about you. They’re about rape, temple prostitution and pagan religious practices in historical times. Their condemnation and rejection of you reflects their ignorance, not only about those passages but also of the scientific understanding of sexuality and gender identity.
Four things to help you on your journey.
- Educate yourself. Do your own research. Read as much as you can about sexual orientation or gender identity. Not on conservative Christian sites or books though. They only rehash dated information. Try HERE and HERE.
- Connect with other LGBTQ young people either online or other community groups. You’ll most likely have to do this out of the church environment.
- Know the difference between welcoming, accepting and affirming churches (CLICK HERE). For your own mental health, you may have to find a new church community that loves and affirms you for who you are.
- Find one or two people you can share openly with, who will support. Make sure they are safe and will never betray your confidence. Once again, these people might be outside your church community.
Don’t fear. Be strong.
Remember, you are loved, and you are not alone.
Anthony Venn-Brown OAM
Author of the bestseller “A Life of Unlearning – a preacher’s struggle with his homosexuality, church and faith”