A few years ago I watched the movie Shall We Dance with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon (one of my favourite actresses) and Jennifer Lopez (who I normally don’t like). The movie was enjoyable but not hugely memorable for most.
It’s about a man (Gere) who is in a bit of a midlife crisis and while journeying home on the train – usually laborious and tedious – looks out the window and sees a woman dancing (Lopez). He decides to check it out, and discovers that she teaches a small dance class. He joins the class and finds a new lease on life.
He doesn’t tell his wife (Sarandon) though and she immediately suspects his late nights and renewed vigour are the result of a new woman in his life. She mistakenly believes he’s having a sordid affair and hires a private investigator.
The PI quite fancies her and at one stage it looks like they’re about to have an affair, but Sarandon’s character stands firm in her marriage. The PI is confused (and quite jaded since he spends most of his time following cheating spouses) and asks her why people get married. Her response is the reason for this piece. And my favourite quote ever. And the reason I love the movie.
I’ll get to what she says soon, but I’m still on the gay issue…
Recently, I went on to a church’s website. It’s a church I was actively involved in and left after I realised I was not winning the ex-gay battle. They were not the most supportive with my decision to come to terms with my sexuality, but I suppose they never knew how to deal with it.
On the website they have an article asking “Is God homophobic?” I read it and, at first, was angry, and then sad. In a nutshell, the writer concludes that: homosexuals are loved; that turning straight is not really an option (one step forward, people!); and thus the only solution for gays who want to be Christian is celibacy.
I’m not sure people that who aren’t gay know what that means. Being a gay man is not something I chose; I don’t believe anyone does, or would. And realising you are gay and constructively dealing with it means you go through a grieving process.
You grieve the fact that you are different. You grieve that you are going to be in a minority group that experiences exclusion… You grieve that you are seen by some as dirty… You grieve your masculinity or more correctly the loss of masculinity in the perception of others…
And, the one that I still get sad about, you grieve that you will never have children and a “traditional” family within which to raise children. Adoption or signing a contract with surrogate mother is the only option…
But, you grieve…
Now this church tells me I also have to grieve not having a partner… someone to love… someone to grow old with. You see, when asked why people get married Sarandon’s character says this:
“We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness…’”
I know some will say that God’s love and witness is sufficient. I don’t believe it is. And it certainly isn’t enough for the vast majority of straight people. God put us on earth to experience relationships.
So now, if I choose to have a partner, does that mean I have to grieve the loss of a relationship with God? Well I don’t believe that either…
I choose life – and life in abundance. And I choose to have someone I love to witness it, to be a part of my everyday life… and to be a witness to his.
That’s all it boils down to.