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Struggling with my complicated identity

I apologise for the long post, but I needed to write all this to try to help people reading to understand where I'm coming from. I'll try to be as brief as possible. I think I may have hinted at some of this in the past, but I'll be honest, I feel really vulnerable making this thread. I know that this is a safe space to talk about this stuff. I've shared some of it with just a couple of very close friends, so posting on here is really nervewracking, despite knowing that this site is anonymous. So please bear with me for a while.

 

I've always been born and raised as a Christian, and this is a really important part of my identity. I went to a Catholic primary school and an Anglican high school, and this education, combined with my involvement at church really cemented my Christianity, and this is not something that I wish to hide.

 

But I've always felt ... different. There were certain behaviours, particularly during high school that I could not explain, despite how hard I tried. It is only in the last 3 or 4 years that I've come to understand that, even though I'm male, I'm attracted to males as well as females. I don't particularly like the label though as it tends to portray a certain stereotype which I don't identify with to be honest (not that I'm saying all that people who use the bisexual label do btw).

 

It's been a real struggle trying to live with having two seemingly conflicting ideas within myself, and this struggle has been eating me alive for so long. I suppose I'm just grateful that I have a better idea of what the struggle is. I want to stay true to my Christian values as that's something very important to me, but it's really difficult to do.

 

This is something that I struggle with to this day, and I suppose this is one of many reasons for my continued mental health struggles. Probably what makes this particularly hard to deal with is that I don't have any professional supports that I trust enough to tell about my attraction. I'm not in a position to tell any of my family right now, and probably not for a long time.

 

I don't even know what I'm actually asking for making this thread to be honest, just for someone to listen to where I'm coming from without judgement, I suppose. If you've even got this far, thank you for taking the time to read. Heart

Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

Hey @mrmusic,

 

Thank you for being brave enough to make this thread - I know it wasn't easy Heart

 

I can imagine it must be so difficult having two conflicting parts inside of you. Do you think that, in time, you might be able to reconcile the two? I know there are sections of the Christian community which are really accepting of same-sex attraction and don't believe that it's incompatible with Christian teachings. Would having a supportive faith community be helpful for you?

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No human being, however great or powerful, was ever so free as a fish

Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

@mrmusic Firstly, well done for being brave enough to make this post! Identity is confusing enough without parts of it clashing, and is such a personal thing. 

 

One thing you could do is look for the experiences of bi and gay Christians. (I know that you don't identify as bi, but it's a shortcut word to find people who're attracted to both men and women).

From what I know, your experience is not uncommon. This means that there are others who you can learn from who have gone through similar things. 

 

I hope that everything works out for you.

Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

Hey @mrmusic, as someone who has a complicated gender identity and sexuality (if you had to put labels on it, I would say it's genderfluid and pansexual, respectively, but like you, I don't like applying labels due to the stereotypes/rigid ideas associated with them) who was raised Catholic, I can imagine what confusion and struggles you must be going through. Like you, I also didn't have the confidence to reach out to professional supports about this as well as my family/friends about this (and hence why I still haven't "come out" yet). I think what really helped me in this situation was reaching out to God Himself, because I knew He was trustworthy and would know how to best help me. I then realised that God would love us no matter what and that I believe that God taught us to love everyone no matter what - it just so happens that my way of loving everyone is loving everyone no matter what their gender identity/sexuality is.

Therefore, this leads to what @lokifish and @Tiny_leaf were saying that there are people in the Christian community who are accepting of same-sex attraction because of these reasons. I have tried searching on social media on any religious individuals who identify with the LGBT+ community and it really comforting to hear their stories that I was not alone. Maybe doing this will be helpful for you as well?

Another support that I can vouch for (if you haven't yet contacted them already) is QLife. They're super supportive and know what's it like to be in your position.

Apologies if this may sound like a long post, but I really wanted to tell you that you're definitely not alone in this, and I'm more than happy to support with you on this Smiley Happy. Good luck <3
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Hope is just around the corner; you think it's not there when you first look straight ahead, but it actually is when you turn around
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Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

Hey @mrmusic , as others have said, thank you for being brave and sharing this. You deserve to get support and to be heard. 

This is a really hard situation  - identity can be really hard to navigate when it feels like some parts of our identity don't match up with others. 


I really like the suggestions that have been made to consider thinking about your faith through the lens of accepting diverse sexualities. 
I was a christian for most of my life, and was very active in church community - many of the Christians I knew who were struggling with reconciling their faith with not being straight, have found a way to accept their whole self, and their faith simultaneously. 

Gay and bi Christians do exist, and they offer wonderful insights into this journey. 


Getting support for this may need to come from a few places, depending on what feels right for you. Q life is a great place as @Esperanza67  has said. 

 

We're here to keep chatting through this with you, and we all support you no matter what form your identity takes. Heart

 

 

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I'm leaving ReachOut on the 5th of June Smiley Sad Say goodbye here

Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

Hi @mrmusic! Thank you for sharing this. It must have been really hard and taken a lot of courage. I think it's an issue that a lot of people can relate to and benefit from hearing your perspective about it.

I was also raised as a Christian and went to Catholic schools and a Christian parish. As I grew older, I became more tolerant of other perspectives and developed my own ideas about what to believe, especially as I became involved with science and research.

Every branch of Christianity is different and only the core beliefs really remain constant across different denominations. Some Christian denominations such as the Uniting Church for example are accepting of different sexual orientations. Pope Francis once said something like 'If you are gay, who am I to judge?' He said that people who identify as gay should not be marginalised and that God loves all of his people. I think we are all capable of being Christian and receiving God's love and support regardless of our identities, if that's what we choose to believe.

Peace is a major component of most religions, rather than creating divisions between people. Pope John XXIII wrote an encyclical called Pacem in Terris ('peace on Earth'). I haven't read much of it but I think it is addressed to everyone, not just Christians, and talks about the importance of equality for all people. It says that each individual person is a person in their own right, and everyone is entitled to free speech, social support and having their needs met.

When people say that these types of feelings are 'not natural' or 'abnormal', I remind them that there are many species of animals that also show attraction to the same sex. What could be more natural than animals in their native environment? Sometimes I think that maybe God made them that way.

I can't tell you what to believe, but I know that it also helps some people if they think of the obstacles in their life as challenges that God has put them through in order to test their courage and resilience. I have heard some people say that God would not put them through anything that they could not handle or endure.

I hope this helps you in some way Heart I hope that in time, things will get easier for you.

Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

Thanks everyone for the support @lokifish @Tiny_leaf @Esperanza67 @gina-RO @WheresMySquishy Heart It really means so much to me.

 

I will definitely have a chat to Q Life about this. I think in time I will be able to find a way of living true to my values whilst completely accepting my same sex attractions, it's just a long journey to get there. But I hope I will make it eventually. I do believe that this will help make me a stronger person however, and I hope that I will be able to use this to help others in my life and work.

Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

Hey @mrmusic 

I really admire you for being so honest and putting yourself out into the forum world, it can be so hard to admit things and share intimate details regardless if its in the forums or in person. 

I can relate to where you are coming from, especially as I have struggled with crushes towards the same gender and where that puts me as a Christian. This is the first time speaking about it and writing it down as I am afraid how my Christian friends would react if they knew and I get enough weird looks when I say that I have girl crushes on particular actresses and singers (as in I deeply admire them and their talents). 

There are so many books on the subject though and I highly recommend checking some out (I just did a quick search on a Christian book store website and found so many titles all of which look helpful). 

Also I know do Christians who identify as Bi and Christian and they are accepted in both communities. 

I also don't think you don't need to be out and proud as both sexuality and religion are extremely personal and private things. 

One thing that has helped me is to look at sexuality on a sliding scale and it can vary. I also remind myself that at the end of day God knows us inside and out and he accepts us for who we really are. 

 

 

 

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Whatever it takes I know I can make it through!

Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

Wow thanks everyone! I've been reading through this thread again, and it's nice to know that there are others on the forums who have had similar experiences. Heart

 

@ErinsAntics Thanks for sharing your story. I have told a couple of Christian friends from uni who reacted well, but we were really close. Most people in my life don't know, and I'm worried about the reaction from other friends, Christian and otherwise.

 

There was someone in my year at high school who came out as gay, and some of the other students were really horrible about it. At the time, I hadn't realised my own same sex attraction, but I think it affected me deeply when it comes to trusting people with this information. Looking back now, I think a lot of that was lack of understanding - my school did not talk about this issue at all. It also didn't help that the chaplain was also the school counsellor.

I don't think my family would understand either, hence I probably won't come out to them for a long time, or possibly ever.

 

I still haven't racked up the guts to call Q Life about this yet, I think that's probably a good next step.

Re: Struggling with my complicated identity

@mrmusic  I'm glad this thread has helped you. Smiley Happy I think you're really brave for sharing your story. I'm glad your friends reacted so well.

Your high school kind of reminds me of my former one. The students had really negative attitudes regarding same sex attraction. I'm pretty sure their attitudes have changed now though as most people have matured since then. My school also did not really address these kinds of issues or provide education about different sexual identities. I think that was part of the problem as well.