I ask the question, “Why?” I keep thinking about why I would be attracted to other men, why I would always have had this inner wish when I was little to have been born a girl, why I would have so much difficulty throughout all of life relating to other men, why God would so strongly disapprove of me being in a romantic relationship, and I can’t help but wonder for what purpose it is all for. Why, of all things to struggle with in life, do I have to struggle with gender identity/sexual orientation issues? Why not something a little more common that doesn’t influence the very nature of my being? Why not just pornography, masturbation, greed, gluttony, anger, alcoholism, lust, jealousy, etc.? Not that any of these things are any less difficult to fight or deal with, but none of them bring into question the physical aspect of who you are. No, I have to struggle with the very nature of my identity as a human being. I don’t feel nor think of myself in very masculine terms most of the time, even though I do recognize many of the masculine traits I do have. A lot of the time, I don’t relate fully to being male or female, but something in between. And that in between reality pulls me in both directions so much of the time. I know I am male, and I like that I’m male, but my mind and perception of self is so female it isn’t even funny. This impacts the way I relate to others in virtually every possible manner, including sexuality.
When I think of sex, it is not at all from the typical heterosexual male’s point of view. On the contrary, my first instincts are very much alike to the typical heterosexual female’s point of view (me being in one of maybe three sexual positions with a man on top of me). And, also, like the typical heterosexual woman, even though there is certainly physical pleasure to be enjoyed during sex, it is the closeness to the person making love to me that I desire the most (this isn’t to suggest that no straight men feel the same in this regard—remember I’m talking about instincts and I’m basing this off of past conversations with straight men and women). That’s what I think of whenever sex comes to mind. Those are my first instincts, and that’s pretty much always been the case (spare for a select few occasions).
I’ve had sex with three different people in my life. I know that may come as a shock to some of you, but it is the truth I have to live with, and I do feel regret for. When I was twelve years old, I became sexually active with a boy that was a couple of years younger than me. For the most part, we were only experimenting with each other. We were learning about sex together. I know this had little to do with attraction, but I was still drawn to do those things with him. It just seemed natural to want to, and he was willing.
Sometime during this two year course, I also had sex with a girl. That was a onetime event, which I have no illusions about—I wanted to prove to myself I could be with a girl.
Neither of these people do I wish I’d have had sex with, and I know they feel the same. I wasn’t in love with either of them, nor did either of them love me. But I look back at that time in my life and see how incredibly stupid I was (and how stupid they were too). The things I did during those two years filled me full of regret, sorrow, and self-hate. I layered those feelings on top of me for years. I knew it was just about sex, wanting that physical pleasure.
I allowed those feelings to pretty much diminish any thought of ever actually being with anyone in any sort of relationship. I just thought there wasn’t much real possibility of that happening. But, in spring of 2010, I began (reluctantly) dating a woman that I went to school with. I wrote about that relationship many posts back, calling her Eve.
I loved Eve. There was a lot about her to love. But that relationship fell apart. This happened for many reasons. The biggest reason was just that we didn’t have any of the same long term goals for our lives. Even though we knew this, we still wanted desperately to be together in the short term.
Eve was the third person I became sexually active with. I could give a lot of excuses for why this came about, but I won’t. This was just another reason our relationship fell apart though. After awhile she thought she’d become pregnant. Like most people hearing this sort of news, we wizened up more than a lot. I know both of us really looked much more seriously at the relationship we had. It turned out that she wasn’t pregnant, but we both realized we’d made some very wrong decisions. We both knew that neither of us was willing to give up some of the dreams we’d carried for ourselves for so long. And if that was true, then we never should have allowed ourselves to go so far with each other. She accepted, before I did, that if we weren’t going to be with each other in the future, then we shouldn’t continue being with each other at all. And that’s why she broke up with me.
I was devastated when that relationship ended. I know I really did love Eve. And I know she really did love me, too. We’re still on good terms with each other. But in hindsight, I know the love we had was, at least in part, conditional. I also know there were problems with our relationship extending beyond those I’ve already mentioned. I was never really able to feel comfortable being physically intimate with her, in any regard, or to ever lead in that relationship, even when she wanted me to. I couldn’t be what is required for that sort of relationship—physically or relationally. I felt so awkward so much of the time, as though I was a straight woman trying to be with another woman. It just seemed to completely unnatural for me to be with her. This inner sense kept coming up while we were together. I often think Eve recognized this, too, though she never said anything. She did know I was attracted to other men, and was always very understanding about that. But I do think it impacted our relationship. And I never thought it was very fair to her.
I learned several things from that relationship though. One was that sex can ruin something beautiful. Another is that just because you’re in love doesn’t mean you have to have sex. And a third is that I will never again have sex with anyone unless it’s the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with—and I’ll give that more than a few months to figure out—because the pain of doing otherwise is just too great.
I also learned a great deal about myself though. I was able to see how a relationship with a woman could be possible. It could work, and I won’t rule out the possibility of that ever happening again. But I do see how unfit and unmatched I was for that sort of relationship. I know I was always on the wrong end of it. My best match is to be with another man, romantically and relationally speaking—that’s what works. Being with Eve, I saw that more clearly. I also saw who I really want to be with.
I’ve suppressed my love for a male friend for a very long time now. I loved him even while I was with Eve. And, unlike with Eve, I know the love I have for him is unconditional. We’ve had many ups and downs, but our friendship has survived (longer than any other I could mention). I think he is handsome, though I doubt few others would think of him beyond average. He is smart and witty. He loves to write and talk about religion and politics. I love that he challenges me in my thinking, that he is always patient with me, always willing to listen, always willing to be there for me. And I love his faith in God. We have so many things we share in common. And I know if I could choose one person to spend the rest of my life with, he would be my pick. I would choose to give everything of myself to him, without regret, and I don’t doubt that for even a second.
It hurts knowing how much I love him, knowing I’ve found the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, knowing that he could share those same feelings with me, but knowing that that can never happen. I’ve struggled so much trying to figure out how to respond to this love. It is not just the love for a friend. It is beyond any measure a romantic love as well. It’s both, really. I want to be able to look him in the eyes and tell him I love him, and for him to know that beyond God, that holds most for him. I want to be able to come home to him every day. I want to embrace him. I want to hold hands with him. I want to hear his voice and feel his presence every day. I want to take care of him when he’s sick. I want to grow old with him. I want to feel my soul connected with his. I want to do all those things a married couple can do together. And, yes, to even make love with him. And yet, I resist.
And I ask, “Why?” Why do I struggle with this thing? Why is it that I’ve come so far to learn so much what true love is all about, and to truly love someone in this manner, just to be told that it’s an unholy love that God would never approve of? Why is it so wrong for me to want to share myself with someone that I love so much? Why and for what purpose would God ever allow me to go through such a thing? Love is one of the greatest things in this world, something that Christ himself advocated more than anything else, and yet I’m denied the love of another?
I know I can be loved, but there are different kinds of love. I want to be able to love someone where I can give everything of myself—my body, my mind, my soul, my time, everything, and to know that it is all out of love. You can’t really love a friend like that. And there’s the difference. My struggle isn’t one of wanting sex. It is one of wanting to experience that sort of love and being told no, and that answer making no sense at all anymore.
I want to do what’s right, but I know I want to do it because it makes sense. Not just because it’s what I’ve always been told, which is based so much on what others have always thought, who had no real idea what sort of thing they were talking about. I don’t want to accept a teaching that I honestly do think may have come about only out of prejudice and misunderstanding.
I look at the story of Adam. God saw it wasn’t good for man to be alone, and yet He’s asking me to be alone? I look at Jesus’ commandment to love, and yet I’m told the greatest of loves isn’t okay for me? It just doesn’t make sense.
And so I struggle on trying to make sense out of it all.