Is your sexuality in limbo? Do you believe the Devil and God are at war over your sexuality and therefore your soul? Can you be heterosexual without Jesus?
Many Christians believe that everyone is heterosexual by default—even though reality invalidates this assertion. They argue vociferously that if homosexuality is accepted as normal and Biblical prohibitions no longer matter, heterosexuals might develop a desire for sex only with people of the same gender and the human race will die out in a few generations. Implicitly, there are more gay people per capita in secular societies where ordained heterosexism and homophobia are not the cultural standard. The invisibility of gay people in the public sphere affirms this ridiculous hypothesis.
Shannon (a member the Love March Movement for ‘sexual purity’), during a heated exchange in the Jamaicans for Secular Humanism Facebook group, disclosed that she was once attracted to both sexes. She made this admission in a bid to argue that sexuality is not defined by sexual attraction but by sexual behavior and piety. Shannon, as a child of God striving to live up to His ideals, wanted to be attracted only to men and with His help she suppressed her attraction to women. In other words, she won the battle with the enemy.
For the record, the fact that I am gay is my strongest conviction. As a child, I never had the vocabulary to understand my sexuality in a Jamaican cultural context and I certainly never had the courage to speak openly about my reality, but my attraction to men has never felt strange or perverse. The struggle I had was to reconcile my sexuality with cultural prescriptions for appropriate, respectable sexuality—never the sexuality itself.
Defining sexuality as behavior and not as attraction only seems to be relevant in the case of gay people. For heterosexuals, sexuality is very much defined by sexual attraction for they don’t wait until their first sexual encounter to affirm their desire for the opposite sex. As far as I know, like most gays and lesbians, they are led to their first sexual experience by sexual attraction. So why do some Christians insist that gay people are heterosexual by ‘design’ and that it is by indulging our ‘sinful desires’ that we become gay?
Shannon confirmed her misunderstanding of human sexuality when she proposed the following analogy: “If I always wished to become vegetarian but never stopped eating meat, can I claim to be vegetarian? No.”
The comparison is thought-provoking, but an examination of its premises lays bare the ignorance that fuels the advocacy of the Love March Movement and other anti-gay Christian groups. Those of us who believe we are ‘vegetarians’ even though we’ve never fully committed ourselves to a new ‘diet’ are not eating ‘meat’ while we ponder the moral implications of a vegetarian ‘lifestyle’. We simply aren’t eating at all. We starve ourselves because we believe that if we should heed the call of biology we would be surrendering to ‘gluttony’.
Perhaps we should do a poll to determine whether Jamaicans who don’t attend church on a regular basis, and who aren’t particularly religious despite self-identifying as Christians, are grappling with latent sexual attraction for both sexes or for the same sex. The vast majority will say no and they wouldn’t be lying. Most people simply have a dominant sexual attraction for the opposite sex. Nevertheless, there is a vocal group of Christians who preach that it’s only by God’s grace that many of us don’t develop attraction for people of the same sex. In their minds, every gay person is ‘affected by the enemy’ and is necessarily struggling with their sexuality and many more heterosexuals are susceptible to the Devil’s machinations.
In an effort to deny the existence of gay people, Daniel Thomas and his Love March Movement are questioning and undermining the reality that heterosexuality is a stable aspect of identity for most people. Dr. Keon West, in a private correspondence, agrees that this is a persistent contradiction in some sects of Christianity: 1) everyone is born heterosexual but 2) without the protection of Jesus everyone would succumb to the temptation to be gay. Frankly, I’m starting to believe that those who advance this ridiculous argument are grappling with same-gender desire themselves and assume that everyone else is suppressing such inclinations with adherence to Christian doctrine.