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Gay - The Lonely Choice
By: Darlene Bogle
I gulped back the growing lump that threatened to push to the surface and erupt. This was the last day of classes before Christmas vacation. Everyone was leaving for two weeks -- everyone, that is but me.
Memories of Christmas past paraded through my mind. Christmases of good will donations and drunken celebrations by alcoholic parents. This was my first year away at college, and I renewed my vow to not spend this Christmas with a family who not only didn't know the meaning of Christmas, but who also would be too drunk to care. I was in a Christian college, struggling with my fledgling Christian faith and 17 years of pain-filled memories, fragmented by divorce and absentee parents.
The sound of footsteps invaded my thoughts as Linda walked through the doorway. "Hi, Darlene. You through with classes?"
"Uh-huh. Just finished my last midterm." In an attempt to forget the haunting thoughts. I busied myself straightening things in the closet. I tried to hide the lump of emotion that was lodged in my throat. "You all packed for vacation I asked.
"Almost! My folks won't be here until morning. "Linda looked around the room. "Are you sure you don't want to come home with me for the holidays?"
"No...I" I murmured, turning back to my impromptu project. "I can earn more money toward next semester by staying with the janitorial crew for two more weeks. I hope you have a good Christmas, though. You are planning to return next semester, aren't you?" I looked intently at my roommate. Sometimes I feel I don't even know you, even though we've roomed together three months!
Linda flopped on the bed, propped her head against a pillow, and stared at me. "I haven't really decided yet," she answered. "Darlene, I'm going to tell you something." She motioned for me to come sit on the bed beside her. "I really like you, Darlene, and I know how out of place you feel sometimes." She hesitated. "I feel out of place too. I haven't been able to share with anyone, but I know you'll understand. Darlene, I'm gay."
The words sank like a brick to the pit of my stomach. There was a light pause-an embarrassed silence-then I blurted. "Gay? You can't be! You're a Christian!" I wanted desperately to run away and hide, to erase the words I'd just heard, yet I sat rigidly on the edge of the bed.
Linda spoke softly. "Yes, I love Jesus, but I also love women. I've tried to change, but there's no way out, so I live with my secret."
I rushed to the window as I felt the hot tears rising behind my eyelids. I looked out into the cold, wet December world and saw car lights moving like snails, hesitating only to pick up students for the trip home - home to warm fireplaces and caring families. Loneliness started to close in around my mind, like the damp Seattle fog hugging the ground. I watched the greetings and departures, resenting the embraces that didn't include me.
Fifteen minutes passed before I turned to face Linda, tears still winding their way down my cheeks, dripping from my jaw. Her confession vies an inappropriate backdrop for the scenes of love I'd been witnessing out my window.
"Help me understand," I pleaded. Something in me was screaming. Look out, Darlene. This is not right! I ignored the inner voice and sat down beside her. If I'm going to help her, I need to know, my mind countered with reason.
Deep inside, I knew how much I needed someone to care...someone with whom I could share the fears and rejections of my life...someone who would understand and wasn't afraid to be close. Knowing how much I had been hurt, I didn't want to reject Linda.
We talked late into the night, first Linda's story, then she nodded compassionately as my past hurt and rejection bubbled to the surface.
By morning, I hadn't really helped Linda, but my fear had been transformed into a warm love for her. She understood. I felt love and accepted. Slowly, subtly, I was introduced into the unhappy world of homosexual bondage.
The next two weeks my nights were filled with frightening dreams restless stirrings of guilt. I both anticipated and dreaded the new semester-and Linda's return. She decided not to return, but my tormented pilgrimage of 17 years began that Christmas vacation. My maze of lonliness, guilt, and poor self-worth were framed in the context of a Christianity that wasn't working. The issues were clear, but the choices were not easy and always seemed just out of reach.
In retrospect, I know the freshman year of college is not only the first year of separation from the family unit but that stress and insecurity occupy the environment of college campuses and loneliness creeps in to snuggle with even the most outgoing and secure personalities. And, yes, homosexuality and suicide even happen on Christian campuses.
Looking back, there were several mistakes I made that led to my painful pilgrimage. Linda's was the only friendship I had established in those first few months - of insecurity. Prayer and Bible study were left to chapel period. I didn't realize that isolation is a breeding round for discouragement and sins of any nature to flourish.
I didn't know that if someone shared involvement with drugs, alcohol, or sexual sin that I should encourage them to seek counsel with an experienced counselor or pastor. I didn't know that trying to help Linda without spiritual maturity or knowledge of the extent of her problem, only opened the door for my susceptibility to her influence.
I didn't know my loneliness and inferiority would be blown out of proportion by the overwhelming need to be loved like the other students. Students who had parents that still loved one another! I didn't know it was inevitable that the secret wounds of my childhood would erupt to the first listening heart. I didn't know that, just because I was in a Christian School, I couldn't assume they were adhering to biblical standards of inward holiness.
I didn't know that just quoting the Bible and attending morning worship services wouldn't grow me into a mature Christian. In my ignorance I felt safe, in reality I was being trapped by satanic bondage.
Linda never returned to college, but I sought out others with whom to share my loneliness and fears. In pursuit of easing the ache, I made choices that exploited me sexually and emotionally. I was locked on the endless treadmill of drugs and alcohol as I sought to kill the guilt of violating God's truth, that still lived in my heart.
The choice to walk into freedom would come only years later as I opened the festering wounds of my childhood and allowed the Spirit of God to totally cleanse and heal me.
In college I only did Bible study in chapel, now I'm in a weekly study group, interacting with others. In college, I was isolated and alone, now I have several close friends I not only pray with, but to whom I'm accountable.
I've learned not only to quote the Word of God but also to allow it to penetrate into the cracks and crevices of my wounded spirit and bring healing. I've learned to act upon such scriptures as "Turn away from evil and do good" (1 Peter 3:11) and "Flee from youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 2:22). These foundation scriptures committed to memory became a stone barricade against the accusations of Satan that screamed, "You'll never be free! never be free!" Step by faltering step I eventually walked into freedom.
I can still see the cars on that black winter day, stopping to load the laughing, smiling students, carrying them away for Christmas celebrations with presents and family sharing. But now...the ache is not devastating. The loneliness, feelings of inferiority, and rejection are under God's control and He has provided families to affirm me in my singleness. He has provided families to embrace me with all of my hurts and has given special friends to listen and pray...and love with His love!