T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 35643
posted 10-24-2011 03:23 PM
Hi everyone. I've struggled lately with a few things but what I'll talk about today is coming out to a couple of my Christian friends. One told me she's glad I came out to her and "even though she doesn't agree with it" she still loves and cares about me as a friend.
Another friend whom I came out to 2-3 years ago recently sent me this website, preceded by the following message (edited). "I have been putting off sending you this webpage for nearly over a week now. To be honest, I think I was avoiding, because I thought by sending this to you, I might be risking losing your friendship and this honestly would be the last thing on my mind which is why I have been avoiding sending you this email and avoiding and avoiding to sit down and write this email. But I want you to know that something inside me keeps bothering me & so I must. And if if it's something that can be of help to you in anyway, I don't want you to miss out. As I sat down and watched the video clips on his website &also read what he wrote, I couldn’t help but honestly be very moved. It was so raw, so honest, unpretentious & importantly, from the mouth of someone who has been to everything and back. I was very touched &blessed by his story like thousands who have already also heard it. And I hope that in some way, somehow, that his story will be of comfort to you. That many have also been though your shoes or somewhat similiar (?) /or perhaps had to endure even more hurt than anyone should be allowed to bear. That you are not alone. That, is all that I can ask for. I would like to encourage you to check out his story by reading what he has to share under FAQs &also in videos. But it’s up to you. Yet, if you are so offended that you wish to give up on our friendship (which I think, now actually spans more years than with most people I know- unexpected I know ), I want you to know that I will understand. If u will though, I want to say: Thank you though, for always caring & dropping me a line once a while though, have always appreciated it. Thank you friend... = )" This is the website: http://www.christopheryuan.com/main/index.html I would very much appreciate if someone on this site had the time and patience to read this message as well as this gentleman's bio and FAQ's on website and offer some opinions. I am feeling quite hurt and confused and unsure of how to respond to this friend, although I do know I'd be sad to lose her friendship.
Member # 42505
posted 10-24-2011 03:40 PM
Hmm. This page doesn't seem to really apply to you in any way that I can see. I'm not really sure what your friend was intending you to do with this or what they were implying with sending you this link? Maybe I need more info. Are you having drug problems? Are you HIV positive? Are you a Christian? I think already know you're not "living promiscuously as a gay man".
Member # 79774
posted 10-24-2011 04:25 PM
Hi, Eryn - I'd just like to say that I've read a bit from you on the boards, and have a huge amount of respect and admiration for you; and although it certainly wouldn't've been your purpose, I learned a great deal from you about how people from different backgrounds can have different issues around orientation. I'd be no help to anyone on the matter, but I hope now I would at least do no harm
I looked at this guy's site a bit, and I'm guessing the bit that made your friend think of you is in the FAQs. I can't help thinking that she was also projecting, or something, by finding this so inspirational for herself that it must apply to everyone/anyone to whom it's even tangentially related. I watched a bit of the videos, but have to say I couldn't stick them the whole way through. I'm not so good with religious propaganda. Declaring my own position: I'm agnostic, with deep suspicion and dislike of anything trying to persuade me to believe a certain thing. I'm also suspicious of anyone crediting religion for turning their life around - if they're so much better off, then great, whatever works for them, but I think that implying that religion is the Only way to turn one's life around is completely disingenuous and insulting to many people who do it unrelated to religion. I would be hurt and confused if a friend sent me this. The stuff about homosexuality is nowhere near as bad as things I - and I'm sure you - have come across, but still, the whole "you're ok but acting on your desires isn't" totally rubs me up the wrong way. It always feels like homophobia wrapped up in frothy ribbons just so the homophobes get to feel better about themselves. Them saying that they love me, the person, just sounds like an excuse for them to be homophobic without me supposed to be able to say so. But then, I totally dislike the whole concept of original sin, so there you go. Your friend does sound like she genuinely cares, just in a very misguided way. It seems that it's so ingrained in her that similar-sex action is wrong that she's hurting on your behalf. I really don't know how I would manage to handle that, but hopefully other folk will have more useful things to say about it. (Edit: I have some thoughts on how/why this guy got to where he is and has this approach, but I'm really not sure that's what you were asking for, so I'll leave it for now and not write you an essay ) [ 10-24-2011, 04:29 PM: Message edited by: Redskies ]
Member # 42505
posted 10-24-2011 04:55 PM
Redskies, I couldn't even read that far. Ha. Also, Eryn, I want to offer my condolences that your friend seems to think you need "curing" in any way just based on who you love or are attracted to. I would also be hurt by this, I can't even imagine if someone who I thought was a good friend was trying to compare that to needing help with drug dealing.
I hope we can offer you support here. I've lost some religious friends myself because even though I was totally tolerant of what they believed, they weren't very tolerant of my beliefs.
Member # 35643
posted 10-24-2011 05:26 PM
Thanks for your input guys
. If Heather was free at all, I would also be interested to hear her perspective, if it differs. Kat: I'm not a drug user or dealer, HIV positive or a "dental school dropout", for that matter. I have never been in prison. I am a Buddhist. The only similarities between me and this person are that we are Asian and are/(were?) gay. Promiscuity is not a term I buy into, but since this person defines it as any sexual activity outside of god-sanctified marriage, then I suppose I am promiscuous in his terms. Redskies: Thanks so much for your kind words. His ideas do feel homophobic to me too, although confusing. In his FAQ's though, he says "I don't know how else to put it but anti-gay bullying (or any bullying for that matter) and homophobia are wrong. Sure some have wrongfully included those who hold to a biblical perspective of sexuality as being homophobic or hateful. But if bullying and homophobia is defined simply as the mistreatment or harming of those who are gay, then it is simply wrong." "Unfortunately Christians are seen as doing little to stop bullying and homophobia. Often we may do nothing when our youth make jabs or say 'That's so gay'. This needs to stop." He just doesn't seem to realise that his preaching and terminology is harming and judgemental of those who are gay and I don't know how to explain it. I don't think that acting on sexual desires in a consensual happy way can be sinful. I discussed this friend's (C's) message and website with a couple of other friends. A friend who is Christian but more liberal told me that C clearly cares about me and that the website just explains the Christian worldview and for me to not take it seriously as I don't share that religion anyway. One of my lesbian activist friends, on the other hand, told me if she were in my position, she would cut off all contact with C as she didn't tolerate hurtful homophobia from anyone. Thus explains my confusion!
Member # 3
posted 10-24-2011 06:11 PM
I'm here, eryn, and happy to take the time.
There is a somewhat common approach to homosexuality from some Christians which boils down to "hate the sin, not the sinner." In other words, they feel homosexuality is a sin, and thus, wrong, but that treating someone homosexual with hatred is also not okay. I agree with you that that approach is still very problematic (and that's without even going into the fact that nothing in Christian doctrine actually says homosexuality is a sin in the first place). I also wouldn't attach oneself to ideas like "the Christian worldview" as something anyone can sum up around this. Christian approaches to orientations other than heterosexuality vary widely, more widely all the time, really. I confess, I, too could only take so much of this website, mostly because I just felt really sorry for this man. That might be patronizing, but, to me, personally, there's a self-hatred in these kinds of approaches that really, really bothers me. Have you asked your friend WHY, very clearly, they sent this to you? Assuming you want to?
Member # 35643
posted 10-24-2011 06:30 PM
. Regarding the Christian doctrine, the reference that this person used is Leviticus 18.22 "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it as an abomination" (NASB). I suppose this is a moot point for me though as I don't follow biblical principles. Can I ask what makes you think of self-hatred? From watching his video, I thought he seemed quite loving and caring of himself, noting that he still has homosexual desires sometimes (which is ok) but had surrendered himself to serving God in holy action. I think I will ask her again. My initial perception is that she thought I could relate to this man and gain comfort, possibly through following in his "redeeming" path. I once spoke to her when very distressed after coming out to my parents and I think she really felt for me. In general she is a person who believes that all our life's trials and traumas can be resolved through faith and service in God.
Member # 3
posted 10-24-2011 07:24 PM
Well, it's not your religion anyway, but I've heard quite a few theologans (not just queer ones, either) talk about using Levitictus that way and have very valid issues with it.
The self-hating I was picking up was right on the top bar when I opened it: he calls himself undeserving. But to me, the notion that people of one orientation can have the way they feel love and have sex be okay, but others can't, others you're a group of, is a lack of self-love and acceptance right there and then. heck, even for folks who feel strongly sex is only okay in marriage, why not recognize that marriage being kept from you is pretty messed-up, you know? I take it your friend also perhaps doesn't really grok Buddhism?
Member # 3
posted 10-24-2011 07:27 PM
Also, if you want something to share back with this friend around homosexuality and their religion, for folks who haven't really studied this and dug in, this film does a fantastic job of covering the problematic approach to the idea the Bible says the things about homosexuality many people think or say it does:
Member # 35643
posted 10-24-2011 07:43 PM
No, she doesn't understand Buddhism. I think she sees me as another sinner (as we are all sinners?). Aargh a side point, when I was working a rural placement, I came across an article in a Creationist magazine at my bosses house called "Dealing with Eastern mysticism" (ie all Asian originating religions).
I'll share that trailer with her, it was interesting. (I thought you were going to link to "For the Bible Tells me so".) I'm not sure I can have a real discussion with her about it without getting too hurt. Maybe I should have less contact with her although she's previously been a really good friend.
Member # 33078
posted 10-25-2011 07:48 AM
Here's a slightly different slant on things: I'm a (lapsed) Christian, my parents are Christian, we go to church, etc. At our Church, there are very few people who oppose homosexuality- the tenet of "love thy neighbor", and the message of love and understanding are much stronger. Just a reminder that, while not all Christians approve of what you are, don't be turned off by all Christians just because of it ^_^. (The ones that are accepting are usually the ones that don't make a big deal out of it, as my personal rule of thumb)
Member # 35643
posted 10-25-2011 04:56 PM
Hi Selkie, thanks for sharing your point of view
. My apologies if I've said anything here which is offensive to those of us at Scarleteen who are Christian. I do really value my Christian friends. If I didn't, I think I would have kept them at the fringes of my life and remained closeted with them. I guess it's always hard risking hurt when you've been hurt before. So I decided to say to C, something like what my other friend said to me. Along the lines of "Although I don't agree with your beliefs, I really care about you as a friend and value that" and to share that trailer with her for her to be aware of a different perspective.
Member # 3
posted 10-25-2011 05:12 PM
For the Bible Tells Me So is an amazing film, absolutely. But Fish Out of Water focuses almost exclusively on Christian doctrine and dogma and how what so many people claim about its views about homosexuality or bisexuality have no basis.
Of course, it's also often tough to explain how Buddhism views and addresses sex and interpersonal relationships to some Judeo-Christian folks, even though, for the most part, Buddhism is very much in alignment with Jesus' teachings. It's a weird thing to try and bridge, because it should be so much easier than it actually is for folks who state they are really following Jesus/ teachings, rather than the Old testament. Thich Nhat Hanh has done some really good writing on those bridges ("Living Buddha, Living Christ"), should you ever be interested.
Member # 35643
posted 10-25-2011 05:20 PM
Thanks, I'll take a read for my own learning
. You're great, Heather!
Member # 3
posted 10-25-2011 05:58 PM
And so are you!
Really, I hope you give yourself mad props at moments like this. Being compassionate to and with people when they're not being supportive of you is one of the biggest challenges there is, and it's clear that you're quite amazing at it, and without losing yourself, without ceasing to stand up for yourself, either.
Member # 79774
posted 10-25-2011 06:29 PM
If I may, totally, totally seconding Heather.
Member # 33078
posted 10-26-2011 04:03 AM
No offense taken =)
Member # 35643
posted 11-10-2011 04:03 AM
. After I sent friend C a very short message with the above, she replied with a rather prolonged one (1300 words!). I will summarise pertinent points: "Yes I have watched the clip [Fish Out Of Water] like you suggested, and I thought it made some interesting points. When I saw a scene showing people waving banners saying, “God hates fags”!?!!!! my jaw just dropped! And my heart just sank. I think NOBODY on earth has a right to pass judgement on anyone like that and I think it’s very cruel that stuff like that has happened before/is still happening now, sadly. I apologize if I have hurt you in anyway & for any hurt you may have felt from anyone using the name of Jesus (not that I can speak for billions of people). I thought the film was good, in that it showed some of the misconceptions people seem to have, and that is for both sides of the fence, and the hurt this can cause." After that, she went on to argue how there is no evidence for a gene governing hetero and homosexuality, and about how media currently encourages homosexual expression and how it is no longer politically correct to debate this. She thought that splitting people into categories such as sexual orientation and gender only segregates us. She then described her beliefs around God in detail and encouraged me to take refuge in Him, etc, but also stated that she believes we all have personal choice. I feel uncertain about how to respond to all this. My counsellor encouraged me just not to engage with her arguments at all, and that if she persisted sharing her uninvited beliefs with me, I should end our friendship. However, I'm a bit reluctant to do this as C still seems very well-intentioned and kind to me. AND THEN..the other friend (A) I have mentioned in the first line of this thread invited me to see a Christian speaker who talks on relationships and sexuality. This was Sy Rogers, someone who identifies as "ex-gay" and "formerly bigender". In case anyone is interested, here is his story: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXOYs_KEFjw Understandably, I declined to attend his speech. However, that whole episode upset me. I am wondering whether I need to end my friendship with A too, or whether I have the strength to argue my point of view in some way.
Member # 79774
posted 11-13-2011 04:59 PM
Just wanted to put a word of support your way - dealing with situations with friends can be really tough.
I usually think of it in the way that, to have relationships with certain people, we would have to make certain compromises. I think it's about whether we think we can make those compromises at all, and if we can, is what we get out of the relationship worth making the compromise for? Your friend C's response in many ways sounds quite supportive to me. As you say, she does seem well-intentioned and kind. I actually even agree with her that categories of orientation are artificial and segregating; however, of course, what she's missing is that that only happened because everyone was assumed to be and live a certain way, and the only way to get out of that was to be clearly different. It's not the minority being different who created the segregation, but the expectation that they'd be like anyone else. And your friend's opinion that the media is too biased: I can't help but be sympathetic to her, as that can only come from being fed that prejudice somewhere. That of course in no way means you should put up with that opinion if you don't want to. Some of the difficulties from C seem, to me, almost more religion-based than orientation-based. She seems to honestly believe that you would be better off if you believed what she did. If I remember correctly, you're Buddhist? A possibility, if you wanted to keep the friendship, could be to talk to her and ask her to respect your religious differences; that is, that Christianity is clearly very important to her and makes her happy, and you're pleased for her about that and wouldn't suggest to her that she changed, and that that's how you feel about your own religion, so could she not suggest that you change? If you wanted, you could draw a clear line that you value her friendship, but need her to not share her beliefs uninvited with you; and then see how she responds to that. I have to confess I didn't follow the youtube link; I'm not really in the mood for ex-gay talk. I, too, would be upset if someone asked me to a speech by someone about the ex-gay movement. It does seem to suggest non-acceptance of one's orientation, a hope that we would change, a belief that we Could change, and a belief that we'd be better off if we did change. I'm sorry that you had that situation with your friend, and afraid that I, personally, have nothing of any use to say to you about it, because if that happened to me, I don't think I'd deal with it very well. I wouldn't know what to do. It's very hard when someone claims to like us as a person but not like something intrinsic about us.
Member # 35643
posted 11-26-2011 03:06 AM
Hello Redskies, thanks so much for your thoughtful response. Regarding the compromises we make to maintain relationships, I've felt lately that my friendships are worth so much. It is hard letting them go even when there are significant differences of opinion.
This is how I basically replied: "My views on how sexual orientation comes about are not concrete and I'd rather not argue them. I agree that we are all free to choose our beliefs, faith and actions. As such, I am happy being Buddhist and also appreciate my religion's tolerant views regarding sexual orientation and diverse relationships. I can tell that you are happy and fulfilled in your faith and I hope I would never ask you to question that. At the same time, I really appreciate when my own considered beliefs are respected " Regarding the other friend who invited me to see the "ex-gay" speaker, I basically declined the invitation in a polite friendly way without explaining or justifying my reasons. I feel it's basically up to her how much she wants to push this issue with me. If it continues to come up, I'll have to rethink contact with her, which makes me sad I've previously found her to be a lovely caring person who has helped me with uni studies too.
Member # 78235
posted 01-16-2012 03:39 PM
I feel sorry for your friend; I have to say.
To attempt shedding light on her situation, I'd like to mention some of my christian upbringing past. When I grew up a Christian, it didn't occur to me to question my faith until 7th grade, and after deciding to keep my faith, I didn't truly question it again until about six months ago. So basically, I've been fed messages from my church that I've almost without thought drunk into my own life for 16 years of my life, and this is what I've noticed; Ever since I was a tiny child in kindergarten, I was told to tell my friends in school about the 'Good News of Jesus,' and invite all my non-christian friends to worship, because if I didn't convert them, then eventually I'd be flying in heaven while they burned in eternal fire in hell. Basically, even only two years ago, I still had the mentality that a) being a christian solves all problems, including schizophrenia, homosexuality, and depression and b) making your friends christian is a life-and-death struggle that it's your job to save. I ended up sometimes /very/ pushy about my faith, until last summer when my camp counselor said that when I heard a voice in my head telling me it was okay to be a lesbian, that was Satan's voice. I suddenly realized that I had to break off from my specific church and cease to be a christian (my parents love this church very much and will never stop making me go to it no matter what), or believe that I was not actually a lesbian, and that it was Satan's influence over me. I chose to become agnostic. And now looking back on how I was, especially when talking about religion with my friends, I was as pushy as your friend without realizing it, because I grew up being told that God is the best thing in the universe and will heal all ailments, and if you don't believe in him then you're going to be tortured for eternity, no matter how much you try to be a good person in life. Your friend could easily just be concerned for your immortal soul, in her own boxed-in world.
Member # 3
posted 01-16-2012 03:44 PM
amberbydreams, what an incredible addition to this, and what admirable ownership and honesty of all that.
Just kind of sitting here utterly wowed by you right now.
Member # 78235
posted 01-16-2012 04:28 PM
Thank you very much! I just happened to have a life that had me see both sides of this argument personally.
Member # 35643
posted 01-18-2012 07:29 AM
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, amberbydreams
. I can't imagine what it's like to be told as a young person that your sexual orientation is "Satan's influence over you". You sound like a very strong person to have walked away from that and I hope you're feeling better about your sexuality nowadays. (I think my friend and I have reached a somewhat uneasy truce when she assured me that of course she respects my beliefs, and we haven't discussed religion OR sexuality together after that point.)
Member # 49582
posted 01-18-2012 08:01 AM
I'm so glad you and your friend found a compromise! I know what it's like to have friends with such different beliefs - it's a huge struggle. So glad it got better.