I'm spiritual. For me, that means I'm in a relationship with something far greater than myself, and trust that without that higher power I wouldn't be having this beautiful human experience. Honestly speaking, this perpective wasn't always my truth. In fact, as Maya Angelou says, "There's a world of difference between fact and truth. Fact obscures the truth."
For years, I allowed facts that I had been raised upon to guide my beliefs—yet not my true beliefs. "You'll go to Hell if you're not good. Homosexuality is a sin. You have to earn your way to Heaven." Granted, these guideposts, along with many others, contributed to me becoming the person I have become. I don't discount their value, nor the impact they've had on my life.
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However, my truth was in direct conflict with many of these belief systems, and I couldn't shake the feeling that something was amiss. I loved participating in church functions, socializing with my fellow believers, and being part of an elite group that was destined for eternal life, provided you didn't disappoint the big guy upstairs. Yet, how do we even know he's a big guy upstairs? For all we know, he's a she, rockin' some high heels, wearing a pair of beat up overalls, looking out over the Pacific Ocean from her yacht that's invisible to the naked eye. Not to sound sacrilegious, but do we really know anything for certain? Of course not!
The only thing I know for certain is when I'm hungry, I'm hungry. When I'm thirsty, I\'m thirsty. When I need to go pee, I need to go pee. Not to diminish beliefs in God or a higher power, but for me, everything else is a belief that grows out of faith, trust, and well...believing!
Oh, I forgot one thing...I know I'm gay, and the higher power that put me here on this earth to have this human experience didn't screw up! That's my take, and throw stones at me all you want. If Jesus can hang on a cross, die, be resurrected, forgive me of my sins, and love me just as I am, I sure as hell can take a beating from the judgmental stones you throw at me just because my being gay makes you uncomfortable.
It's no big secret—when you come out of the closet, one of the greatest judgments to be hurdled at you is that you're a sinner! Often, you're the first one to have this little "come to reality" talk with yourself and it isn't all that pretty. Yet, if it didn't get ugly having this inner conflict between love, faith, truth, and sexuality, you'd never have the resilience to walk through the rest of the coals that come with along with "coming out of the closet". Even if you're one of those who's freed from the religious guilt and shame, "coming out" is still one of the most spiritual experiences we as human beings can ever experience.
The big question then becomes, "How do you reconcile your faith, religion, relationship with God, or spiritual beliefs with your sexuality?" Well, don't ask me. I'm not you. And okay, that was a really flippant, "holier than thou" response, but at lest I'm being honest. From my perspective as a coming out coach, and supporting individuals in coming to terms with their sexuality, I challenge you to ask yourself, "How do I reconcile my faith, with my sexuality?" That's where you begin.
Step One, in my book, is to go within, letting go of the external. You've already heard from everyone outside of you what his or her thoughts are about your sexuality in accordance with their perspective on faith and religion, so thank them and release them from future responsibility for you getting yoru foot in the door to whatever heaven is that you’re striving for beyond this life.
Permit yourself to dig deep, exploring the "what" and "why" you believe the way you do about your faith and sexuality. Look through your own designer version of "you" glasses and don't let 50 Shades of Grey dishearten you. As I went through this phase of my journey, I discovered the more I asked the question, "Really? I was made in the likeness of God, and now he hates me?", the more I realized "I don't think so!"
In fact, at times I hated that I had faith in anything greater than me. Once I finally wrapped my head around a true belief of "God is love", then it was simple...God Is Love, period with a capital "P." Again, this is just my perspective and doesn't have to be yours.
Step Two in my coming out process began with the "F" word...forgiveness! I had beat the crap out of myself for so long thinking I was weird, and screwed up, and that I couldn't breathe without believing I was so far out in left field. It felt that even a higher power had forgotten I existed. Once I came out and came face-to-face with congregation upon congregation of "belief toting, holier than types", I decided to simply forgive rather than surrender anymore. Forgive those who quite honestly were doing the best they could, given what they have to work with, in the moment they've been given. It's pointless to argue and debate with those that thrive on arguing and debating. I feel it's a blessing to agree to disagree and if the relationships are not meant to flourish because of our differences, then allow this part of your life's journey to unfold and move on.
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