How Do I Know God Made Me Gay?
June 22, 2014,
My mother kept a scrapbook for each one of her children. Perhaps because I am the oldest, mine is the fullest. Lovingly glued to each page is a host of memories. First year birthday cards, are next to an envelope with locks of my hair from a first haircut, congratulatory telegrams from relatives in England when I was born, are pasted next to some of the first “art” that I created.
One of the more telling pieces in the scrapbook is an “essay” that I wrote in third grade. The assignment was to write about “what do you want be when you grow up?” At the age of eight, I wrote that I wanted to be a priest.
To be sure, this idea must have been quite surprising to my parents. We were not a very religious family. My mother was raised as an Anglican and my father, although having a great love for the Orthodox Church in which he was raised, actually knew little about the theology of the church. And so, as a mixed religious household living in the suburbs, far from the ethnic neighborhood where the Ukrainian churches were located, we attended Liturgy very infrequently. I understood nothing of what was being sung or said in Church, and yet I knew and felt that it spoke to me. The sights, sounds, smells and feel of the Church were beautiful and I felt great warmth and love inside its walls. Perhaps it was the mellifluous voice of the old Archbishop as he prayed, the whiffs of incense or the pieces of candy given to me by my babtsya (grandmother) during the service that drew me in; I do not know. What is certain is that I was happy when we did go to church. In fact, I was so annoyed that we did not go to church more often, that in fifth grade I wrote a letter to my nana (grandmother) in England complaining that my parents rarely took us to Church. International calls in the late nineteen-sixties were expensive and therefore rare, Calls were made on Christmas or when a family tragedy had occurred. And yet after receiving my letter, my grandmother called my mother from England demanding that her grandchildren be taken regularly to Church. My mother took the admonition seriously. Not getting a strong reaction from my father and unable to drive the long distance into the big city, my mother packed us in the car on the following Sunday and took us to a local Greek Orthodox Church, even enrolling us in the Sunday School program. These actions by his non-Ukrainian, non-Orthodox wife embarrassed my father enough, that he started to take us to a Ukrainian Orthodox Church on a regular basis.
The desire to become a priest only grew stronger as we became regular worshippers. What I experienced at the Divine Liturgy, being an altar server, having conversations with my priest, reading everything that I was given or could get my hands on about the Orthodox faith, all helped guide me to Seminary and eventual ordination. When meeting with the Seminary rector before I was accepted, I was asked, “So, why do you want to become a priest?” I had prepared for this question. I had rehearsed answers of such high platitudes that only a 17 year old could conceive of. And yet when asked, I replied, “because I love being in God’s house.” The Seminary rector, Father Frank, pushed me further for a deeper answer. I could not offer anything else except, “because I believe that God wants me to be a priest.” After four years of Seminary, ordination, twenty-three years of being a parish priest, and twelve years after leaving the active priesthood, I still love the beauty of God’s house and believe in the divine wisdom of God’s plans for my life. And if asked today why I became a priest, why I was a priest, and why I would have liked to remain a priest, I would still have to give the same answer that I gave thirty-eight years ago, because I believe that God wanted me to do so.
In this story from my life, I find a parallel in a question that confronts me and many others. It is asked of gay people, and gay people sometimes ask it of themselves. How do I know that God made me gay? How can I be sure that I was born gay and did not choose to be gay? These questions lead me to others. How do I know that God called me to fall in love with another man? How do I know that God called us to be in love and how did He blessed us to be married and be together for more than a decade? These are questions that me and other gay people are subjected to frequently, having to justify to others our sexuality and our very lives.
How do heterosexuals answer these questions? Do heterosexuals even have to answer these questions? How do you really know that God made you straight? How do you know that God called you to fall in love with someone of the opposite sex? How do you know that you married the right person? How do you really know that you should stay married to that person? How do you know that you love your own children?
The answers to all of these questions are actually very simple. The answers come from the depths of our very being, our soul, from our God instilled conscience. Humans know certain things about themselves, perhaps unable to fully explain them, or even to use profane words, and yet we believe and know certain things to be true, sacred even. Our life is God given and so is our sexuality. How does a mother put into words the love she has for her child? How does a man know he is called to be a priest? How does someone know they are gay? The answer is very simple to all of these complex questions; they come from God.
This Post Has 22 Comments
There is such a ring of truth to your words. These feelings (of attraction to men) have been with me as long as I’ve had sexual feelings; and yet the Church tells us that these feelings are wrong, and that we may not act on them. I pray that the Church will start to change its thinking on gay relationships. Is there any indication that this may be happening?
Thank you so much for your kind comment and support of this website. It means a lot to me. You and I share much in common. For example, a recognition of an early attraction to the same sex. There is unfortunately no sign, at all, that the official Church is changing her views on same-sex relationships. In fact, the Ecumenical Patriarch just spoke about the “dangers” of same-sex attraction. There is hope among priests, certain bishops and the faithful, at least in the US. All of them by now, know someone, perhaps in their family, who is LGBT. They see first hand that we are not monsters. That is why the more we can be open and honest about who we are and who we love, the better might be.
Thank you again.
Please stay in touch.
I bid you peace,
You are still a priest regardless of your sexual orientation. The person who ordained you was Jesus.
Thank you for your kind words and support of this website and ministry. I also believe that I am still a priest, although one with many faults. However, as you know, in the Orthodox Church a priest needs to function under a canonical bishop. That is something that I no longer do, because I am unwilling to live a lie or be silent on certain issues.
Please stay in touch.
I bid you peace,
Father I am a Roman Catholic and transsexual woman. What does the Orthodox Church believe about transsexuals? The Catholic Church is not understanding. They believe transsexuals need therapy instead of becoming who we truly are. I have formed my conscience to where I follow my heart instead of listening to their absurd beliefs.
The Earthly Orthodox Church, as much as it has preserved and continues to live the truth of Christ, is not caught up with another creation of God: science. All of the major statements about transsexuals made by the Church that I have read, are quite negative. To be directly honest, it will be very difficult to find a welcoming priest and parish. That is not to say it is impossible, it depends on where you live and how much you care to reveal.
Your heart and mind were created by God and you know who you are. If you want to make the step to membership in the Orthodox Church, I would encourage you to do so, I would just urge you to be careful, for your own emotional protection.
Please stay in touch and let me know if there is anything that I can do to help you.
I bid you peace,
Dear Jasmine – all we are called to become is like Christ. Nothing else. This means sinning less, repenting, and coming to a full knowledge of the truth.
I pray for you.
Hi Father Andre,
I did some research into the Orthodox Church, because of some defrocked priests I know. I’m very confused as a Catholic we recognize that even a defrocked priest was validly ordained. You would also have an indelible mark on your soul. You are a priest forever. Even as a defrocked you would still celebrate Mass validly, meaning the bread and wine would become Jesus. Are you still not a priest? Can you not celebrate the Divine Liturgy validly? Which honestly makes no sense, because you still are a priest right? If not please convert to Catholicism! You would not need to be re ordained. We need humble, honest, priests like you! God bless!
Thank you for email and support of this website. While I do still consider myself a priest, I am not an active priest as I have no permanent altar. I vowed to follow rules that I could no longer in good conscience follow and so I left parish ministry. I did not want to live a double life,although I do not condemn those who must do so. Perhaps, if it is God’s will, this website and the numerous emails that it receives is a new ministry for me. I have not been defrocked, but am no longer under the supervision or care of a bishop. In the Orthodox and Catholic churches, the priest cannot function without the “protection” of the bishop. I also thank you for the invitation to be a Catholic. I have several Catholic priest friends, some of whom are gay. The issues around LGBT dignity in both Churches is not so different; gay priests suffer in both churches.
Again, thank you for your kind words about my honesty.
Please be well. I bid you peace,
While we accept you as a human being that is deserving of dignity, please be advised that this blog is centered around the Orthodox Church as the bride of Christ, so it is not polite to tell Father Andre, and Orthodox priest and Orthodox faithful, to convert to Catholicism.
I wish you well on your spiritual journey as a transexual woman. It's hard but we must bear our crosses and have deep faith. God is loving, not petty.
I have also heard of many Catholic priests being gay. I have heard from somewhere that the Catholic church will not allow gay males to become priests, which makes no sense since celibacy is required. Sometimes, I get tired of petty church dogmas, canons, and legalisms that have absolutely nothing to do with the Gospels. When I go to church, I go because I love the Lord with my heart and wish to serve Him and others in His love. It's a practice so simple but so powerful. Anyway, I've realized that homophobic people in the church are just filled with personal prejudices against LGBT people so Im beginning to care less and less about what they say and listen to my inner voice that simply tells me to love and forgive, even those who persecute me. It really is a tough cross to bear. Remember though, the Lord gives us the gifts of faith: wisdom, knowledge, faith, etc.
Thank you for your email and support of this website; your comments are of interest and comfort. I would of course agree with you that many of the small traditions and instructions which are argued over and followed above the first commandment to love God and the second to love others, are indeed frustrating. I think that your comment about homophobic people in the church might be a bit harsh. It is important to remember that people are influenced by their “teachers”, be it their parents, government, or the Church. When hearing any message from the pulpit, many of the faithful take what the priest or bishop says to heart, as if it were Gospel. It is only when we, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered Orthodox start to live openly and honestly that we can begin to change the minds and hearts of others. We also have numerous allies, our straight family members and friends who should be encouraged to speak up for us. In many places this is starting to happen. We are people of hope. Your inner voice, your conscience, from God, is telling you the right words.
I bid you peace,
This is a refreshing read for me I too have known since a very young child I was different. I went therough Seminary and tried all the Churches prayers ideas of removing this internal struggle, Prayer , fasting casting out the demons , etc… If there is no male nor female when we are in Christ why does the chuch look at the persons sexuality and then make these judgments on their lives? I'm now 57 and celibate. I love the Lord and His Church my life is consumed with prayer and Helping others… I'm open about my life and my past but many seem uncomfortable with my being authentic … I'm so glad I found this site! I jusrt want others to know how amazing God as been in my life and inspite of the differences of opinion on my personhood Christ has been amazing and seems to continue to hear my prayers and work amazingly in and through my life! Bless you all and thank you for your honesty and testimonies!
Thank you for your kind comment and support of this website. The fact that we live ourselves openly and with honesty and sincerity is unsettling to some. Years ago when I asked a co-worker, who I knew was anti-gay, why she later changed her opinion of me and gay issues, she stated that I changed her mind. Now, I never discussed gay issues with her or tried to convince her that my views were correct, I simply lived my life, spoke openly about my husband, as others spoke openly about their spouses and hid nothing about who I was. Over the years, she began to see me as “normal”. So, I think that we need to be people of prayer and hope, people of patience and honesty, with perhaps a dose of “chutzpah”. Remember that God loves us the way that He made us. Few minorities have escaped prejudice, ridicule, persecution and much worse. Please continue the good work and stay in touch.
I bid you peace,
I am orthodox and as a true Christian I will not say to you, who feel with your whole hearts to be homosexual, that you are an abomination. No. Those who say such things to you do not speak for God or his word and twist it. Gos loves everyone equally. The Orthodox Church considers itself to be a refuge for souls in pain and those who seek redemption from their passions. It does not condemn. The church is a hospital for all of us sinners. No one is exempt as far as I know. That includes everyone! Everyone has a passion that is overwhelming in his /her life and struggles tooth and nail to overcome it as it is a seed of the souls destruction. We cannot rely on our own devices to heal us. We have to pray and to put the strength of our souls will into fighting it, through prayer, fasting, prayer again, confession, communion…we have forgotten how to fight against our spiritual struggles. We are soldiers fighting against, not eachother, but dark principalities….demons, who seek our damnation because of Gods grace that has been bestowed upon the human race. We have a choice to struggle against our passions in this short lifespan or we choose to give into them and suffer the loss of our souls into eternity.
your compassionate comment is moving enough, but it contains a frequent error made by those who are unable and/or to walk in gay people’s shoes: you quickly assume that gay sexual orientation is a “passion” one must be healed from, if only with understanding and compassion by everyone in the Church. The truth is, sexual orientation, straight or gay, in and of itself is not a passion; were it so, then every heterosexual would be asked to give up on love and sexuality for life and no marriages would take place at all. The same holds for skin color: it has taken humanity centuries to come to the conclusion that non-whites are not an inferior race or inherently sinful. No one can seriously ask any person of color to repent for having been born, say, black. Sexual orientation is formed as early as conception, right along with every other human trait, and does not change, ever. Even if a gay person abstains from sexuality all his/her life, s/he will still die as a gay person. Gay people, like straights, can be promiscuous or monogamous, but that is a totally different matter. The Church is a hospital in the sense that in it we are asked to co-exist with those that are different from us and to meet them in the Eucharistic chalice as equals. “In my Father’s House there are many rooms,” said Jesus.
I am in need of your experiential wisdom. I am nearing my last year in undergraduate theological studies at a private college, and o am discerning a vocation in monasticism so that I might one day become a Hieromonk/celibate priest.
I desire to do this because I love our Eucharistic Lord, and I love His people. However, I have always seen a fault of mine my attraction to other men. I RARELY speak of it to anyone, and I have wrongly and sinfully acted out in the past (before I came to Orthodox Christianity). Praise to the Trinity and thanks to the Theotokos for showing me the light and getting me out of my “pagan days”.
Now, having been free from that life (death) for almost three years, I am well on my way to Christ and ever-thankful. However, I still feel ashamed that I am attracted to the same sex, because I fear that I will desire to end up in a relationship. I do not desire to commit any sexual sin, but I cannot keep forcing a lid on my sexual orientation+desires. There is one particular guy that likes me at my college and he hurts for me because of his similar situation. I feel frequently like apologizing for being reserved around him, although I shouldn’t have to be.
My question is: what do I do? Do I set aside my desire for the holy priesthood, or do I pursue God’s service? Do I speak openly about my orientation so I font suffocate? Do I keep it hidden in order to not sin?
Thank you, and I apologize for taking your time!
Thank you for your email. I will try my best to help you, but ultimately the answer to your question resides in Christ, reveled through prayer. I think that you should not be ashamed of what God made. Your sexuality, just like the color of your eyes, your height and your cognitive abilities – are all gifts. The only question is what are called to do with them and what you do with them. Same-sex attraction, like heterosexuality, is part of Gods creation.
As you know, marriages, relationships are so much more than a sexual union or partnership. Ask any married couple, especially one married for more than a few years, and they will tell you what a small part of their relationship sex comprises. It is an important part, but not central. Much more important is respect, love, friendship a “helpmate”.
As someone who was ordained early in life, too early, I also thought that I could be celibate and alone. It is a very difficult, and almost perverse cross IF you are not called to celibacy.
You do not mention how old you are, and that at times is a factor. The younger we are, the more idealistic we are and do not have the spiritual tools necessary to lead a life of solitude. Having said that, those tools are developed when we are younger, but there are numerous stories in the lives of the saints, of those who only later in their life became godly.
Anything hidden, in my opinion, is dangerous. There is of course, a difference between shouting things from the rooftops, or the modern version of posting on Facebook and Twitter about your sexuality, and confiding in someone that you respect and can talk to. I would find someone who is not judgmental or biased towards gay people.
We have a tendency to believe that there is an order in which we are supposed to move on in our lives from step to step. High school, college, new job, marriage, first house, first child. Life does not always work out so well when we do that. Numerous people go back to school when they are old enough to appreciate the value of education. The Orthodox Church recognizes the need for second marriages…
So, take some time. Live with your thoughts and desires, not suppress them. Take the prophets and others as examples of those who wrestled. Confide in someone and take time. Your desire for the priesthood does not have to be pushed aside. There are numerous seminarians who graduate, want to be married, have not yet found the right spouse and delay ordination. Many earn extra degrees or get a job and only later are ordained. For many this gives them “life experience” that is invaluable. The main issue is the importance of staying close to our Lord and His Church.
I will pray for you on this journey. I think you are living what I lived decades ago. But of course, we are different people, with different paths, but I do know that God loves us both.
Please stay in touch. A blessed holy week and glorious Pascha!
Andre, thank you. That was a blessing to read.
I am 22 years old and am a Senior in Biblical & Theological Studies, hoping to spend some years at St. Vladimir’s Seminary in Patristics (Fr. John Behr, etc.) and Theology for my doctorate. I will graduate Spring 2016 and head straight there, being sent by my priest and the Diocese.
I am spending much time in prayer and many hours per week at my parish contemplating the Divine Mysteries. What a wonderful time! Even with a heavy load at university, I am at peace in contemplation.
Often, to he honest, I think of my friend who likes me. He and I spend more time together each week, and we are both in constant prayer and anticipation for the Lord to speak to us. I have already been convicted to cut off a friendship with someone I have known for a while, and the results have been burden-lifting.
Please pray for me, and thank you for having done so!
Death and Hades were vexed… embittered!
Christ is Risen from the dead
Trampling down death by death!
And upon those in the tombs
Christ is Risen!
You will remain in my prayers that Christ reveals to you His love and the path that you should take. I wish you all the best of everything. Please stay in touch and be well.
Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow abour same sex marriage :
“This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction. We face enormous temptations when countries start approving sin and codifying it into law in order to justify it.”
The stand of the orthodox church of USA (patriarchate of Constanbtinople)
The Orthodox Church remains faithful to the biblical and traditional norms regarding premarital sexual relations between men and women. The only appropriate and morally fitting place for the exercise of sexual relations, according to the teachings of the Church, is marriage. The moral teaching of the Church on this matter has been unchanging since its foundation. In sum, the sanctity of marriage is the cornerstone of sexual morality. The whole range of sexual activity outside marriage – fornication, adultery and homosexuality – are thus seen as not fitting and appropriate to the Christian way of life.
The Patriarch of Moscow is simply wrong, just as he blessed troops to fight in Ukraine, against a sovereign country. He is wrong, it is not the first time. Let him check his Breguet Swiss watch to check the date. There is even a Wikipedia page devoted to his scandals, which I presume will be dismissed, in spite of the citations, by those skeptical of any negative reports about some of the bishops of the Orthodox Church. The Church has changed its mind about numerous things in the past, it will one day see the truth: God made people, some of them are gay, they are called to love and share their lives with a person of the same sex. As simple as that.