A Question often asked!

 Why do homosexuals feel the need to 'come out?'

October 12th 2000 was 'Coming out' day in the USA! Many do not understand and say 'Why do homosexuals have to tell others?'

Behind this is the self-acceptance struggled for, after years of personal homophobia deep inside many homosexuals - amounting to self-hatred in some at times. It is generated by being different from others, and that difference being unacceptable, taboo, condemned in society and in many churches and religions.

It is something most homosexuals have to come to terms with within themselves; some never do - like Simon Harvey the young christian who could not reconcile his faith and sexuality, which he found he could not change, though there was an earnest desire, and so took his life; and like Alan Turing OBE, a brilliant mathematician to whom tens of thousands owed their lives because of his work in code-breaking of the Nazi ENIGMA code machine. He later produced the first modern computer. After reporting a burglary, he was arrested when police discovered he was gay. At his trial he took the option of probation and the hormone treatment that went with it to 'cure' him. The effects on him were catastrophic, and he took his life.

Slowly things are improving - with helplines and support and, more often than in the past, support and acceptance from families and friends, aided by groups like PFLAG (ParentsFriend), and FFLAG (Families & friends of Lesbians & Gays) and 'ACCEPTANCE'.

We were at a group very recently where one of our gay friends, who is well established in the church, 'came out'. It was moving to hear the words of support and commendation of his courage. When you understand the inner turmoil that often precedes such 'coming out' and the risks that are involved in terms of the potential loss of friendship or family love, it shows how important it is to the individuals who feel they have to take this step of self-acceptance and declaration.

But not all do, and some only when a crisis comes or looms.

I only know what I have read in the newspapers of the story of Dr Clements, but it gives an opportunity to look at some of the factors that can affect the outcome when a married relationship which includes a homosexual man or woman, fractures. Not all such marriages fail, but it is high risk! And it is difficult to understand why some survive but many do not. It is not just a question of 'sticking at the marriage', it is far more fundamental.

The stigma of being homosexual in society today is such that there is often self-denial of that fact. Such people if they come out to a priest, minister or pastor are sometimes given advice to marry to 'get rid of your homosexual feelings'. Others think this is how all people feel at times - cannot believe they are different, and sometimes come to the 'marriage' conclusion themselves, thinking that their homosexual feelings will go with a good marriage. But this is not the case.

The normal pressures of marriage are compounded by the difference in sexuality of one of the partners - people who set out in all good faith that their marriage will last.

But that difference creates real problems as that partner realises over time that their sexuality is not going to change, and that love-making, the 'glue' of marriage, becomes a burden, even a kind of torture for some. It raises the need to be honest about the situation with the other partner, with all the problems and hurt that ensues.

When this isfurther compounded by the marriage partners being Christians, with all the pressure that many church's teaching exerts on homosexuals,and especially if the latter is someone prominent in the church, it usually becomes a real crisis before the homosexual marriage partner can face the situation of being open. Some cannot face the situation, and simply leave. Indeed, such are the pressures to conform, that up till the time of open-ness or leaving,the homosexual partner can be the most homophobic of people in their expression in order to cover their identity,and are often fundamentalist in their Biblical interpretation.

I don't know Dr Clements or his family, but I suspect that some of these factors were causing him real problems, especially as he was a leading light of the Evangelical Alliance, which teaches that homosexuality is contrary to scripture.

I read the EA booklet'Faith, hope and homosexuality' and it was slightly unreal. It said a lot about EA, as the book was not really about people, but about ideology that was unconnected with the primacy of Jesus commandment to love God and others - the God who accepts us as we are and leads us in the way of love if we will allow.

When we see, as we do, homosexual Christians filled with the Spirit of God, who are EA to criticise or condemn. It would be funny if it were not so serious, to see some sinners judge other sinners, and thus usurp the place of God!

I have great sympathy for, and have prayed for Dr Clements and his family - they have gone through agonies, and need love and support. EA's teaching on homosexuality helped to bring about the severity of this crisis, because of the pressures of this on Dr Clements.

Perhaps now EA will revise its thinking - its teaching on homosexuality is contrary to the spirit of the gospel of Christ.


And when that day arrives when homosexuals are better understood, their partnerships honoured and their unions blessed; and homosexuals are counselled to think carefully before marrying as heterosexuals marry because of the known problems of doing so, then perhaps life and marriage and partnerships will be better for all, and we shall see far fewer of these painful marriage endings.


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