In my work as a cab driver I never fail to be amazed at some of the things I hear. Well, I’ve heard this one before, but never as convincing as this time. A man in his 40s walked up to the cab and asked for a lift to a destination some ten minutes away. Half-way there I learned he was gay. Nothing startling about that; I transport gay people all the time. His story seemed a bit unusual, though. He said he was formerly married and had three children, but he only had sex with his wife five times. My curiosity was aroused, and the conversation after that went something like this (I’m paraphrasing of course). Let’s call him John:
John: Because of a traditional religious background and arranged marriages I had to get married.
Me: So your wife knew you were gay?
John: Yes, she did, and accepted it. We lived separate lives, except for the sex five times, and out of that came three children. Beat that for luck.
Me: And your children know you’re gay?
John: Yep. And they love and accept me just as I am.
Me: Just curious, but when did you know you were gay?
John: When I was five years old. In primary school all of us kids had to hold hands when walking to church, and I used to feel excitement at holding the hand of another boy, but not the girls. I used to hang out with the girls as one of them, not because of any physical attraction but just because I was more like them. Later on when I was older some of them tried to “come on” to me because I was very popular with them, very friendly and blended in so well many of them took an attraction to me, but I had to brush them off and explain, no, no, you don’t understand, I just like you as a friend, nothing more.
Me: So do you think that being gay really is biological?
John: Oh most definitely! Some people are bisexual, but they are not real gays. A real gay man is almost repelled at the idea of sex with a woman. They [bisexuals] tend to be confused; don’t really know what they want. Some switch over to being gay even after being married and later in life and never go back to being hetero or bi, but some experiment and often don’t know what they really want. That’s sad. I’d hate to be that way, you know, you’re one or the other, not halfway. I was born this way, so I never had to experiment. I knew what I wanted since I was five.
Me: Do you have a partner?
John: I did, up until two weeks ago. We broke up after eleven years together.
Well we’ve all seen the debates, read the scientific literature, and heard the religious and biblical condemnations. My first thought after this conversation was, if there is a God, and he is really the biblical God, then he would have to be a pretty cruel God to create someone this way then tell them they’re going to hell because of the way they are. Even more cruel is the Mormon view* – don’t act upon your “tendencies”. So to be considered “faithful” in Mormonism, a gay person would have to virtually deny their sexuality and sexual urges to be “acceptable to God”. Of course it is their choice whether or not to remain Mormon, but it still must be a hell of a life growing up in a religion with such a strong emphasis on heterosexual love and marriage, and feeling like you’re an outcast because you don’t fit in and will either have to endure a heterosexual marriage to keep up appearances, remain single for life, or act them out and suffer excommunication from the Church and live with the idea that you’ll never see God again.
When are we finally going to get out of the Middle Ages? When will common sense and just plain and simple observations of the realties of the world hit home, rather than always literally accepting the opining of 2,000 year old texts that claim to be “the word of God”?
* I only mention Mormonism because that is the religion I'm most familiar with. Some fundy Christians seem to me to be just as cruel.
1. DAVID ECCLES HARDY Letter to Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer
2. LDS Church Revises Pamphlet on Gays