‘Healing’ One’s Sexuality
Mainly through sheer laziness we would get in contact irregularly, but he was one of those friends where we could suddenly arrange to meet and it would seem like we had only met yesterday. One of those times was a couple of years ago, after my Mum, who had just turned 60, died unexpectedly.
He suddenly became more proactive in wanting to meet, suggesting things to do. A few weeks later, my Mum’s Dad also died. It was a great comfort to pray together, go to the cemetery, just hang-out. Although we had our differences, I thought we could see past that and finally have a full friendship.
It was great to spend time with each other over the next year. But then he stopped getting in contact and did not return my calls. A few months later I received a long email. It said he thought I was a great person, warm, loving, who hadn’t done anything wrong…but that our paths had changed to the point where he could no longer be friends. He regarded SSA as an addiction like gambling or drug abuse, and it was dangerous for him to hang around other addicts like me who were proud of it, and didn’t even see it as an addiction.
He was going to tell me around the time my Mum died, but thought it inappropriate to say anything then, and he only plucked up the courage to say it a year and a half later. But he wished me well at the end of the email anyhow, but that he would not respond to any contact from me ever again.
I was speechless for a while.
So when Syed in Eastenders met the same kind of SSA ‘therapist’, I was excited and nervous to see the conclusion. He talked openly and honestly about his sexuality, and the therapist went through a series of explanations and ways to deal with this, covering all angles from childhood to coping strategies. But ultimately…love won. In tears, Syed realised that, for him at least, this was all b******t. He realised that God made him the way he is, warts and all.
And that, actually, being gay wasn’t really a ‘wart’ at all. Perhaps taken for granted by most gay guys, I was over the moon that this was what Syed decided. Because, whether you are an atheist or believe in God, you are who you are, and loving someone can never be wrong.
It is completely unacceptable for someone to feel pressured in ‘coming out’, or to feel ostracised for choosing to keep one’s sexuality to oneself; unless potential damage is caused by being in a certain situation and choosing to not ‘come out’, it is no-one’s business to disclose such information but the individual’s.
However, ‘SSA healing’ is a different story. ‘SSA-healers’ can ultimately worsen the prejudice against members of the LGBT community. They can also be indirectly responsible for the murders of members of the LGBT community; I say this because as a mindset it can create a culture where being ‘queer’ is seen as wrong. If an individual decides to ‘cure’ him/herself, then it is that person’s choice, fair enough. But the problem with ‘SSA-healing’ is that in creating this environment, there is no acceptance that people can be born LGBT or that they don’t need to change…and therefore those that are homophobic – whether through incorrect religious quoting or otherwise – may use this as an example to justify killing LGBT people, if their reasoning is “You were’t born this way, you’re just refusing to accept that being LGBT is a mistake, just listen to what SSA-healers say”. If any of my friends never wanted anyone to know about their sexuality or indeed anything else, I would always honour that, no question. Likewise, I respect my friend’s choice to ‘treat’ his ‘disease’ by going to a ‘SSA healer’, and while I similarly honour his decision to keep this private, I can’t ever really buy this ‘I can be cured’ perspective if it damages the individual and those around him. Especially if it taught him to turn his back on what could have been a great friendship – did he take this advice from other friends? It hurt me to become more of a friend when I was in need and then end it, rather than stop it sooner, especially when I had always strived to give him 110% of my loyalty, energy and love in our friendship. But I guess then it was best for me too if he couldn’t reciprocate it.
I didn’t respond until a few months later. Namely to say I respected him for his courage, but that if he was being honest I therefore did not understand why he was proactive in wanting to meet up for so long, and that any effort on my part to meet up could not have fuelled this addiction when we never went to gay venues or particularly talked about sex, and I had been in a long-term stable relationship for 7 years, etc. And that especially knowing I came out to my family, and how it affected my Mum in particular, I was hurt that he suggested I would reveal something so deeply-impacting to my family for it to be merely an ‘addiction’. Lastly, I hoped that he was always honest to himself and others, because ultimately, Muslim or not, we should be true to ourselves.
So I sincerely hope my fellow Muslim, my fellow human, and indeed any one involved with ‘SSA-healing’, had watched / been aware of these Eastenders episodes and come to the same conclusion to accept himself, and others, as God made him/them.
Part 2 tomorrow!…