Friday, November 2, 2007

"And God gave me the wherewithal to get out of that and to find out who I really am."

Pastor Donnie McClurkin of the Perfecting Faith Church in Freeport, Long Island, has been referred to as a "superstar black gospel singer" who views that "homosexuality is a choice." Pastor McLurkin’s controversial views became national news at a Barack Obama gospel concert in South Carolina, at which the Pastor performed, and then shared his viewpoint.

"God delivered me from homosexuality," he is reported as saying to the enthusiastic, mostly black, evangelical crowd of over 2,000. But there’s an essential falsehood in that statement – one that perhaps Pastor McClurkin himself does not really realize – and that is, that it isn't "homosexuality" that he was "delivered from."

McLurkin’s ex-gay story is based on his belief that he was gay in the first place. But here is what he has to say in an interview:

"Well, like I said, there was a big 20-year gap of sexual ambiguity where after the rape my desires were toward men, and I had to fight those things because I knew that it wasn't what we were taught in church was right. And the older I got, the more that became a problem, because those were the first two sexual relationships that I had. Eight years old and 13 years old. So that's what I was molded into. And I fought that."

That "sexual ambiguity" seems an awful lot like a non-gay, or perhaps somewhat slightly bisexual, Kinsey-scale-wise, experience. Surely someone who can choose to be gay or straight isn’t gay or straight at all – but is bisexual by nature, choosing one side of his nature to the exclusion of the other. Before I started researching for this blog entry, I was working from the theory that Pastor McClurkin might actually be one of those bisexual people.

But after reading his own description of his 20 years of "gay" experience, I might reasonably conclude that Donnie McClurkin was never cured of homosexuality, because he never had a gay orientation – he claims that all his gay sex, his "desires towards men," was the result of pressures from those in authority - "what I was molded into." And what did he do? He fought the pressures.

That is the same sort of situation that occurs when a naturally gay person struggles for years to try to be straight, or my own transsexual experience of being a woman who was expected to live in the role of a man, and who tried for many years to deny my nature just because of societal expectaions that my gender must be in conformity with my birth genital shape. I spent over 25 years trying very hard to assimilate in the world as a straight man after being told that I could not be transsexual in 1970 because of my attraction to women. As I was told, "Psychiatry won’t cure you of one disorder (transsexuality) to give you another (lesbianism)." And, of course, this predated the 1973 amendment to Psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) that took homosexuality out of the list of mental disorders.

Just like Pastor McClurkin, many gays, lesbians and trans people struggle with trying to fit in with societal expectations – it’s just that with the secret predator pedophile religious leaders in his church community many of the expectations were that he be gay, or rather, a willing victim.

In Pastor McClurkin’s words:

"And you were in an environment where there were hidden, you know, vultures I call them, that are hidden behind frocks and behind collars and behind -- you know, reverends and the deacons, and it becomes a preying ground, a place where the prey is hunted, and that was what it was like."

McClurkin basically describes a world in which pedophilia is common in the church community. But that predator/prey world isn’t a matter of a same-sex sexual orientation at all.

Pastor McClurkin said:

"And God gave me the wherewithal to get out of that and to find out who I really am."

"There's a group that says, "God made us this way," but then there's another group that knows God didn't make them that way."

The problem arises when Pastor McClurkin may not realize that God made some of us straight, some of us bisexual, and some of us gay – and that his experience of being pressured into being something he was not is a common experience with people who are gay who get pressured into acting straight.

The biggest problem with Pastor McClurkin’s "ex-gay" message is that it acknowledges the pain of only one kind of "pressure" and not the other. Pastor McClurkin’s experience has parallels that he might do well to one day acknowledge.

I can only reiterate, for my experience prior to transition, Pastor McClurkin’s words:

"And God gave me the wherewithal to get out of that and to find out who I really am."

And I pray that each of us, however we are by our nature, can come to accept the nature that God has given us – we should, most of all, be true to ourselves. God made me who I am – and who I am was not that man I tried to be for so many years. And God still loves me.


Quotes from Donnie McClurkin are from:

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