On almost any given day, I feel like a fluke. I am scared that I take other people for granted. I am aware that monogamy is not my strong suit. I look in the mirror, and I don't see strength, courage, love, or determination. Instead, I see shame, guilt, infidelity, selfishness, greed, egocentrism, and a vast array of other negative character traits. I love because I want to be loved. I listen because I want to be heard. I remain because I fear being abandoned. I follow because I feel incapable of leading. Most everyone will agree that relationships of any kind are hard, whether they be familial, platonic, romantic, or sexual. We are such complex creatures that engaging with one another often feels like a war zone, waiting to see the bead from another person's laser scope directed at our heads or our hearts, expecting to be shot down. We embrace one another in a hug only to make sure the other person doesn't have a weapon hiding in their back pocket. We stand naked and vulnerable in front of other people in hopes that, maybe one time out of a thousand, we will not feel "less than." We yearn to be affirmed, to be cherished, to be seen for the fullness of who we are, yet often those hopes and desires go unfulfilled.
I first recognized my sexual nature just before I turned ten, though in hindsight, I believe it was present even earlier than that. Growing up in a conservative Christian denomination, people are almost made to be asexual participants of and within creation. Yet this is a fallacy. With seemingly rare exception we are very sexual creatures, sometimes to a hyper extent. Growing up, people were shamed for extramarital sexual practices, almost more so for "self-gratification," and most definitely more so for same-gender sexual practices. In my case, this has led to a gratuitous level of shame and guilt present in my psyche, which further mutated into severe depression and self-loathing.
After fighting my true identity for almost eleven years, including rounds of reparative therapy and involvement in the ex-gay community, things shifted. Inherently, I am an extremist, and once I dipped my little toe into the pool of sexual exploration, the next logical step for me was to cannonball into the deep end. Despite believing myself to be inherently monogamous and wired for deep relational connection, I've always struggled with sexual fidelity. I recognize that this often is triggered by depressive spells as well as periods of hating my bodily appearance. Other times, its onset is at the point where I feel that separation or abandonment is imminent. Prior to accepting the unchanging reality that is my sexual orientation, I'd vowed to never take part in same-sex activities. After the tipping point, however, there seemed to be no end to my desires, often feeling as if inhibition and restraint were words not found in my mental lexicon.
I never wanted to categorize myself as promiscuous, especially considering my religious background. People like that received unwavering judgment presented under the guise of love and concern. In reality, they were treated as scum, dirt, trash, irreparably broken and dripping with sinfulness. So it's understandable that when my own life took a turn into the realm of "sexual exploration," I started to see myself as just those things, incapable of recognizing the goodness that has always been inside of me. The natural course of action for feeling so depraved: numb those emotions with the very thing that made me feel that way in the first place.
I'd always hoped that by getting connected with other queer individuals who shared my faith beliefs, I would experience a change, a transformation. Surprisingly enough, even within those circles, I still see casual sexual encounters as normal for many. Even in my own relationships, there has often been a component of "openness" present, for varying reasons. At first, I agreed to such components for the sake of my significant others, but as time progressed, I realized I was doing it more for myself.
I inherently look to others to assist in my own self-actualization. The problem is they usually don't have the ability to "fix" me. In fact, no one I've ever come in contact with has really been able to heal my wounds - wounds from the church, wounds from an abusive mother, wounds from a homophobic, judgmental, broken world. Sure, some have been able to truly recognize those wounds and make space within our relationships to let the ramifications of those wounds manifest in a more tangible manner. But the healing has never come from without, and what healing has occurred has come from within.
So tonight, as I'm sitting here, thinking about my relationship - the longest one I've been in to date, and probably the healthiest as well - I see just how broken I still am. I recognize my persistent fear of separation and abandonment. My inadequacy. My remorse for past, present, and future actions. My desire to simply not be alone which leads to a slightly more irrational concern that the love I have for F. is insincere. I personally believe that to be untrue, but the concern is still there. I find myself wondering, apart from rationalizations from scripture, whether we as members of the human race were meant to be monogamous, meant to be in relationships from mid-adolescence through late adulthood.
I will say that I believe any sexual act which negates the humanity of the other person is harmful and broken in nature. When we simplify another person to their bodies and their ability to provide pleasure, we miss the mark - severely. That being said, I have to wonder, if individuals are able to engage sexually with others in a way that embraces both persons' humanity and right to be respected, honored, cherished, and even loved, even outside of the confines of a covenantal, monogamous relationship, is that wrong? Is God incapable of finding those interactions pleasing and honoring to Godself?
I don't have the answers, and I also realize that I've gone on for over a thousand words, more than my usual ramblings. But I find that, sometimes, putting the questions out there, alongside my internal emotions about myself, I can walk away from my never-ceasing stream of consciousness feeling a little stronger, a little less weak...