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Church hypocrisy and my story

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  • Anna Hayward
    Hi Everyone, I just joined because I wanted to share what happened to me with the church, and how I think my story shows the truth of the church s attitude to
    Message 1 of 5 , Jul 21, 2007
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      Hi Everyone,
      I just joined because I wanted to share what happened to me with the
      church, and how I think my story shows the truth of the church's
      attitude to queer people. They say they "Love the sinner, hate the
      sin", but the truth is, they just want us to go away and stop
      confusing them with our existence.

      For 20 years, I was a keen member of various
      fundamentalist, "Reformed" baptist churches in UK (Reformed means
      Calvinistic - they basically believe in predestination). I did
      exactly what the church expected of me - I married a man, I had
      children (three) and I lived a respectable life. Inwardly, I
      struggled with the possibility that I was in fact a lesbian, but I
      never let that show. In fact, I was fairly homophobic, like the rest
      of my church.

      Then, a few years ago, my husband came out to me that he was
      transsexual. This is a medical condition, probably inborn, in which a
      person's neurological gender identity doesn't match the outside. He
      was suicidal at that point, so we went to see psychiatrists, who
      diagnosed something called "Gender Identity Disorder". The only
      treatment for GID is a sex change - no psychotherapy or medication
      has ever been shown to work. In fact, the psychiatrist told me that
      untreated, GID has an over 95% rate of suicidal depression, and a
      huge number of patients succeed. I was looking at being a widow in my
      thirties!

      Despite our marriage not being the greatest (no love life basically,
      for years), I still loved my husband and didn't want him to suffer
      for the rest of his life. So I said I'd stand by him if he wanted the
      treatment, which is what happened.

      Anyway, we told the church and that's when things turned nasty. They
      told my husband he was a dreadful sinner and that he was mutilating
      his body. He told them that he would rather take the advice of the
      medical experts, and that he felt there was no alternative. He didn't
      ask for their blessing, just for their support for the family.

      Well, that was their opinion, but then they ostracised me and the
      kids! They literally crossed the street if they saw me coming and
      people from the church ignored me. The one person who did come over
      to visit told me that, of course, I couldn't divorce my husband
      although the church would "totally understand and support you if you
      do", and warned me that if we had relations post-op, that would be
      lesbianism and a sin!

      Anyway, my husband is now legally and physically a woman, and we've
      stayed together. Everyone outside the church (family, friends,
      neighbours) have been supportive - she is now a local counsellor and
      won a landslide victory in recent elections. But the church treat us
      as persona non grata. I was invited to a church a while back, with
      another transsexual friend, but the pastor preached from the pulpit
      about how lesbians were setting out to destroy the family and were
      using men to reproduce. I was offended, and told them so, but the
      pastor just said I wasn't a real lesbian because my partner was still
      a man (I sleep with her and I'm not convinced!) They think it's fine
      to tell lies about gay and lesbian people, and run them down, and to
      tell me horrible things about my poor partner, who has been through
      more in her life than they can imagine in their worst nightmares.
      Personally, I don't think that's very Christian.

      In October, the woman who used to be my husband and I are having a
      Civil Partnership ("gay wedding"). The laws in this country are so
      screwy - we had to annul our marriage to change her sex legally, and
      now have to marry again as two women. But on the plus side, it is
      important for us to show the world that we are together. The pressure
      for us to split up has been intense, especially from the so-called
      Christian community, so we're having a humanist ceremony. My partner
      says she's had enough religion to last a lifetime and wants nothing
      to do with it. I don't blame her, but I'm still hurt and feel
      betrayed by the church, who want me and my family gone so we don't
      have to reproach them by our existence. I never "Choose to be gay" -
      my husband changed sex, but the fact that I accept that, and even
      admit to feeling happier now she's female, is beyond the pale, as far
      as they're concerned.

      As for me, I feel better about myself than I have for years. I am
      having therapy, but I really feel that for me, being with a woman
      (however she came to be a woman) is much more natural and comfortable
      for me. I don't honestly know if I've always been a lesbian - I think
      for the longest time I was completely asexual - but it such a relief
      to be able to be open about my feelings. Sadly, the church stole
      forever the experiences of growing up and discovering myself as I did
      so, without extreme pressure to conform. Now I'm trying to figure out
      who the real me is, underneath all that "Stepford Wife" stuff.

      Nice to "meet" you all, and I hope some of you can relate. It is good
      to share.
    • Jayelle Wiggins-Lunacharsky
      Anna, I am so amazed at the love you and your spouse have for each other, and how tenacious it is. I know I for one have learned to trust a good woman s love
      Message 2 of 5 , Jul 21, 2007
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        Anna, I am so amazed at the love you and your spouse have for each other, and how tenacious it is. I know I for one have learned to trust a good woman's love over the very conditional "love" of the Assemblies of God church, and I'm glad you and your husband-turned-wife have learned that, too. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and welcome to the list. *hug*

        Blessed be,
        Jayelle


        "Sometimes it takes balls to be a woman."--Elizabeth Cook

        http://crackerlilo.blogspot.com
        http://www.myspace.com/greeneyedlilo

        GO SMOKE GO!


        ---------------------------------
        Building a website is a piece of cake.
        Yahoo! Small Business gives you all the tools to get online.

        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Anna Hayward
        In message , Jayelle Wiggins-Lunacharsky writes ... Hi Jayelle, I ve been reading the
        Message 3 of 5 , Jul 21, 2007
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          In message <573694.75511.qm@...>, Jayelle
          Wiggins-Lunacharsky <jayelle3@...> writes
          >
          >Anna, I am so amazed at the love you and your spouse have for each
          >other, and how tenacious it is. I know I for one have learned to trust a good
          >woman's love over the very conditional "love" of the Assemblies of God
          >church, and I'm glad you and your husband-turned-wife have learned that,
          >too. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and welcome to the list.
          >*hug*
          >
          >Blessed be,
          >Jayelle

          Hi Jayelle,
          I've been reading the Ex-ex-Gay Minstry website, and the stories on it
          are very sad but uplifting. It is good to know that there are many
          people out there who have been through these kinds of things and come
          out the other side - the photos of them with their new partners, all
          smiles, say more than the words IMHO. That's where I think we'd all like
          to be - in a loving relationship where we can be our authentic selves,
          dropping all the lies and pretending.

          I wonder who it was who first called it "Living in the closet". It's a
          good term - it explains exactly what it's like, living in the dark,
          hemmed in, unable to breath or experience life. I run an online support
          group for the SO's of transgendered people and our discussion keeps
          coming to the same thing: that living with lies and secrets is not
          living, it's barely survival. It is ironic that Christians seem more
          prone to living a lie than many non-believers. You would have though a
          religion with such a high regard for the truth would value it above all
          else. It shouldn't be about conforming, it should be about living with
          love and honesty.

          Anyway, there I go preaching to the converted again <grin>. Sorry, I do
          this a lot. One of the problems of coming out in your forties I find is
          that you don't have people around you who understand. Most of my friends
          are straight, rather conformist sorts, who I've met through parents
          groups, the schools etc. I don't have a single lesbian friend in real
          life, and none of my close friends are gay.

          Anyway, at the moment I'm struggling a lot with who I am, and how I got
          here. The problem is that I've been kind of kicked out of the closet
          kicking and screaming, because my husband changed sex and I was then
          forced to look at my own sexuality honestly. I didn't do it in my own
          time, although I am pretty sure I couldn't have kept pretending forever.
          But the side-effect is, I wasn't really ready to confront it when I did,
          and I've had a major identity crisis. I'm having therapy, which is
          helping, but is also kicking up a lot of difficult stuff, but I did want
          to say, because it seems to come up on the website a lot: I wasn't
          sexually abused (thank goodness), so that scotches that theory, LOL. No,
          my issues are that I was a late developer, but by the time I was trying
          to work out my relationship/emotional issues, I was already heavily
          embroiled in the church and not free to think. So I went from not
          fancying anybody, to being "professionally celibate", to being married.
          I think I kind of assumed I didn't work like other people, and when
          everything did start "working", I was in a bit of a pickle. I have no
          idea if I'm making any kind of sense here - sorry I write so much, I
          hope someone can follow it!

          So, here's the summary so far (that I've worked out): I have always
          fancied girls, but didn't have any language to describe my feelings or
          awareness that such things were possible. I had a crush on Princess Leia
          from Star Wars, which I disguised by pretending to have a crush on Luke
          Skywalker. I had very close bonds with other girls growing up, but as
          they started to develop attractions for boys, I was left behind. Truly I
          don't think I was allowing myself to feel any attraction to anybody, but
          I went out with boys because that was the done thing. I have never been
          out with a guy I fancied, which is not to say that I haven't sometimes
          thought Keanu Reeves or someone like that wasn't quite cute, but in real
          life, guys just don't do it for me (that confused me at first, but
          lesbians have told me that thinking you fancy effeminate men is the
          get-out clause many use to reinforce their denial). I married the most
          girlie man I could find (I admitted that when I married him), who turned
          out to be a woman (transsexual). So here I am, about to marry my
          girlfriend. How weird life turns out to be!
          --
          Anastasia, "It is not power that corrupts, but fear" Aung San Suu Kwi
        • Anna Hayward
          Hi Everyone, I ve been educating myself on the Ex-Gay movement. It s odd, because in UK we don t have a very obvious Ex-Gay movement, like in the USA, but all
          Message 4 of 5 , Jul 24, 2007
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            Hi Everyone,
            I've been educating myself on the Ex-Gay movement. It's odd, because in
            UK we don't have a very obvious Ex-Gay movement, like in the USA, but
            all the ideas are still there. They're just more underground. The
            Evangelical church in the UK is a tiny, tiny minority, but in a way that
            makes it worse because the culture of people within the church is very
            different to mainstream culture, so people really don't know what I'm
            talking about!

            Anyway, I'm hoping some of you guys do.

            One thing that struck me, that is different to UK, is the confusion
            between gender and sexual orientation. This is very clear to me, as my
            partner is a male-to-female transsexual. She is very feminine and
            girlie, but exclusively identifies as lesbian - she has no sexual
            attraction to men and never has. A lot of people assume that if someone
            is transsexual, they must be a gay man who "takes it too far", but in
            fact, about 25% are orientated towards females, about 40% are bisexual
            and the rest are either orientated towards males or asexual (no
            particular sexual attraction to anyone). The reason for this is that
            gender identity and sexual orientation are very different things -
            gender identity has been pinpointed to a small area of the brain, but so
            far, research suggests that a person's sexual orientation is a much more
            complex issue (despite the discovery of the so-called "gay gene").

            Maybe it's the whole Drag Queen thing that confuses people - gay, male
            performers who dress as parody females. I have read that that tradition
            arose out of attempts by gay men to make themselves feel better about
            their attraction to other men, by cross dressing. They could therefore
            pretend that one of them was a woman and then that was OK. Also, when
            Freud and his gang first identified homosexuality, and coined the term,
            they assumed it was a gender identity disorder and even called it "Third
            Sex Condition" (this was from the same guy who tried to cure his
            brother's morphine addiction by giving him cocaine - a singularly
            unsuccessful treatment).

            But also, the feminised portrayal of gay men served to socially
            emasculate them, so that they were not perceived as a threat to the
            general population (and therefore be tolerated by the majority of the
            straight population) - in fact, this is though to be the origins of Camp
            in general, making gay men soft and asexual in appearance so they didn't
            "frighten the horses" and trigger attacks by homophobes. These
            traditions had their origins in practical coping strategies for the gay
            population, and in misunderstandings by early psychoanalyses, not in any
            gender confusion in gay people themselves - suggest to your average Drag
            Queen that they might like to have a sex change, and they go pale and
            cross their legs, LOL (I've tried this experiment - it was cruel). Just
            because it looks like a duck (or a woman) and quacks like a duck (woman)
            doesn't mean it is a duck (woman). But I think this is one of the
            origins of the confusion.

            It is fascinating (and horrifying) to me that the Ex-gay organisations
            are still perpetuating the misunderstandings about gender and sexual
            orientation. Does that the fact that my hobbies include decorating cakes
            and embroidery, and my life-long passion for sexy shoes and burlesque
            underwear (TMI, sorry!) mean I'm not gay? If my gay male friend is into
            motorbikes and steam trains, does that make him straight? I do hope that
            people can learn not to gender stereotype themselves - if you like
            something, and its harmless, you should do it! We need male ballet
            dancers, and we need female police officers.

            I used to dress in long, body-covering dresses, with long, droopy hair
            and sensible shoes, the sort my grandmother would wear and it didn't
            make me straight, any more than my *wicked*, red patent, high-healed
            Italian shoes I just bought, for my Commitment Ceremony, makes me
            straight.
            --
            Anna "I've seen 'Normal' - I wasn't impressed"
          • Anna Hayward
            Hi guys! Went to see my therapist today (one of the good ones). We talked some more about the damage that has been done to me by 20 years of homophobic
            Message 5 of 5 , Jul 25, 2007
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              Hi guys!
              Went to see my therapist today (one of the good ones). We talked some
              more about the damage that has been done to me by 20 years of homophobic
              fundamentalism. It is really beginning to crystallise in my mind that
              this is what is wrong - I originally went to her for treatment with
              Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She says I performed my "rituals" in
              order to suppress my emotions. The question was, what was so awful about
              my emotions?

              She said that initially she assumed my fear was of going mad. Lots of
              patients fear going mad, it seems. It's a common fear. But I said to
              her, way back "I'm not scared of going mad, if I were mad, nothing I did
              would matter because it wouldn't be my fault".

              The churches I belonged to were Calvinist. They believed that God would
              only save the Elect, and if you weren't of the Elect, you were doomed to
              hell. God was perfectly right to do this - who can stand against God and
              tell Him He's mistaken? "God loves whom he loves, and hates whom he
              hates" we were taught. So, the goal was to prove you were one of the
              Elect by your Godly behaviour. In other words, same sex attraction was a
              major proof that you were probably not one of the Elect, and no amount
              of pleading and praying was going to change that. God loves whom He
              loves. We have nothing to say to Him, and not even our faith is worthy
              of him - Faith is a gift of God.

              But madness, well, if it happened to you it was your Providence, like
              Nebuccanezzer (could never spell that name). It wouldn't save you from
              hell, but at least for a spell you'd be unaware of that fact. Fear of
              hell was the thing that kept you going, kept you striving to "Work out
              your salvation" (prove you were one of the Elect). No, what I was afraid
              of was *feeling*, because if I felt, I might want to do things that
              would prove I was not of the Elect. Things like fancy girls :(

              I remember a time a UK ex-gay organisation came to our church. They
              brought a woman with them who claimed to be a reformed lesbian. She was
              small and fragile looking, kept nervously glancing back at the man she
              came with. It was disturbing. They spoke about homosexuality,
              associating it with prostitution, rape, drugs and squalor, and making it
              clear that it was not something a Christian could even contemplate
              allowing in their life. The Ex-gay people weren't Calvinists, but the
              Pastor succeeded in overlaying their ideas with our church's ideas and
              making a fairly toxic mixture out of it. The message was: If you fancy
              someone of your own sex, you're going to hell and there ain't nothing
              you can do about it.

              This next part, I'm not sure if it really happened like this, because my
              memory is all mixed up, but basically, as the Pastor was talking, I
              noticed a stunning-looking girl sitting by the side of the stage. She
              had the most beautiful, dark eyes with huge lashes and I was instantly
              attracted to her. The thought hit my conscious brain at about the same
              time as the "If you fancy a girl, you're going to hell" thought, and I
              immediately shut it down. It probably didn't happen all at once like
              that, in reality, but that's basically what I did, and why, 20 years
              later, I had intractable OCD that didn't respond to normal therapy. I
              used to pace up and down saying under my breath "Don't think, don't
              think, don't think". I think now that in reality, I was saying "Don't
              feel".

              I'm getting better now, at long last. I'm beginning to feel stuff I
              haven't allowed myself to feel in years. Can you believe my "homework"
              for this week? I have to look at some porn (just pictures of naked
              women, nothing hardcore). The reason is, I'm actually frightened of
              looking at women and have developed a bit of a phobia. In summer, when
              women walk around in bikinis and skimpy tops, I'm just permanently
              blushing and have a wide knowledge of footwear :( And on the Net, if I
              accidentally come across porn of any description, I have panic attacks
              (as I'm doing a degree that covers sexuality, you can imagine the
              problems I have doing research!). I also have to visit a betting shop
              and a pub (presumably to convince myself that no one in there is going
              to leap out and steal my soul, LOL). This might sound like pretty
              trivial, silly stuff, but it's all about breaking the control these
              ideas have over me. Wish me luck - and can anyone recommend some good
              sites? <Evil grin>
              --
              Anna
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