Noah got this movie for us to watch, but I had to watch it on my own first. He was not raised extremely conservative Christian as I was. I need to absorb this movie. And let me say right now it is a rough one.
I was never sent to an ex-gay camp or school or anything like that. But this movie drug me down a gravel road. It brought back so many scary awful memories. The horror and shame I felt for being gay. The questioning. The crying myself to sleep begging God to fix me…to make me straight. I just kept asking… God? Why would you give me these feelings and then tell me I’m going to hell for having them?
And I would be told by “helpful” Christians, who pointed out all the verses in the Bible, that God didn’t give me those feelings. It was Satan, using every tool at his disposal to get me away from God. Another “helpful” suggestion was that what I was going through was like the story of Job, I was being tested. That by putting my desires and feelings aside would prove to God that I was worthy of His love and could therefor be allowed to go to Heaven. They would quote me, Matthew 5:30, that… “It is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.” They would say things like in Boy Erased, that “The Devil’s not going to ask you once, he’s gonna ask you over and over again”
I finally connected to something I’d heard from years in church life. Sometimes the answer God gives you is, “No.” And I finally could only see that there was only one “reason” that God might answer with “No.” It wasn’t because I had to live with my homosexual feelings the same way a diabetic had to live with being a diabetic, or a quadriplegic has to live with being a quadriplegic—that is what Christians were telling me.
No. The reason God was saying, “No”—if God even does that—wasn’t because I had a load to bear to earn His love, a mine field I had to navigate, an obstacle course I had to run, a triathlon I had to do. No! It was because I don’t need to prove myself to anyone. Let alone God. He made me just the way I was and I was meant to be gay. Just like I was meant to have brown hair, and a heart condition, and a love for music, and a big heart full of love, and a constant tendency to gain weight, and the ability to write stories about love, and so much more.
And no, two men can’t make babies. That was the big one I heard over and over. How could homosexuality be correct when two men can’t’ have babies? But is that the only thing that qualities a good or successful or loving relationship? Of course not!
What about all the straight couples who can’t have babies? Or don’t want to have babies? Or are too old? Should a quadriplegic not be allowed to get married? Why do so many people think you have to have kids? There are seven billion people on this planet. We don’t need to have kids. And if we do want them and can’t for whatever reason, there is always adoption and surrogacy. But children aren’t the measure of a love!
Finally I saw that there is no answer or reason why homosexuality exists. At least not that we know right now. Let me qualify that when I say that I mean a “Godly” reason, versus a scientific reason. But guess what?
I do believe there is a divine reason. That it is a part of the Design. That one day it is all going to make total sense! OH! So that is the reason! Wow! Whoa! OMG! Cool!
Remember religion has (not all religious people!!) used the Bible and other teachings to say that women shouldn’t vote or even hold jobs, or teach any male child over the age of thirteen. To keep “the races separate.” To burn witches. To go to war for God. But with time we have seen, or are starting to see, those might have been religious practices, but they are not “Godly” at all.
I do believe in God. I do. And I believe that “It” made me just the way I am supposed to be. And to spread that message.
But do you want to know how insidious “religious” teachings over “spiritual” teachings can be?
Sometimes I still, occasionally, fear that it might be true. I might be going to hell. It is only for a minute here or there, but that is how deep the hateful programming goes.
But then I think of something. What if, if demons or Satan exists, that he is the one that wants me to think I am sinful and evil and wrong? To make me give up. To make me stop believing in Something Divine? To make me despair?
Well guess what? I am not giving up and I know that God made me just the way I am!
Boy Erased is a hard but powerful movie based on a true story. Thank you, Gerrard Conley for telling your story.