“This is my story of how I came to be in a Mixed Orientation Marriage, and the complexities surrounding it.
Others have told me how perfect our family seems, but all is not what it seems. There have been many dark days. I did not come out publicly to hurt my family, even though most Christians I know do not agree with the approach and choices to life I am taking. I did this to be authentic and to live who I was made to be. After you feel like you have been hiding for most of your life, this takes an incredible toll on your health, both mentally and physically, and to finally be able to do this is, it is a feeling of being set free.
I have known from a young age that I was naturally more attracted to men than women. The crushes I had felt different and seemed to be different than everyone else’s. I remember constantly crying myself to sleep at night asking God to take my ‘curse’ away. Faith is a very important part of my life, but I grew up with an incredibly conservative evangelical faith upbringing going to a URC Church (United Reformed Church), Presbyterian church (of North America) and Baptist church (North American Baptist). I remember going to sleep at night and wishing I would not wake up the next morning. I didn’t want to be in this world. I’d pray every night and day that God would take away this burden, but I would wake up every morning and this ‘curse’ would still be there – this overwhelming feeling of eternal damnation would come rushing over me day after day. I thought that maybe if I focused more on God and surrounded myself with Godly people that either I could ignore it and/or be healed and free from it. The pain of forcing myself on a daily basis to ‘act straight’ so that no one would find out about my ‘secret’ required all my attention day in and day out. I heavily focused in on trying to discover the idea of generational sins in my family, uncovering ‘sexual brokenness’ that was a part of me, trying to find the root cause of my homosexuality.
I ended up coming out to my parents, by letter, in Grade 12. I knew at this point in my life, something had to be said. One evening before going out with friends from high school, I placed a well thought out letter on their bedside table without them noticing, pouring out my heart and feelings, telling them that I was gay. Just before my mom dropped me off at my friend’s house, I told her there was a letter in their room that they needed to read. And with that, I left the vehicle. I was a nervous wreck all evening. Once I got back home, I quickly snuck back into my room. The next day, my parents left in the morning together and came back about an hour and a half later. I would later find out that they went to the church to talk to my pastor about me.
When they returned home, my parents came into my room and asked to speak with me.
‘I’m gay,’ I told them repeatedly.
‘Where did we go wrong in parenting you?,’ they asked me.
I responded with, ‘You didn’t go wrong anywhere.’
They asked me if I knew it was wrong, according to the bible to practice homosexuality. I said, ‘I don’t care.’ They asked if I would speak to the pastor and I said no, however I did agree to speak to the youth pastor whom I was closer with. They asked me if I would like to go to Calgary and stay with my Oma and Opa. I said ‘no.’ They told me not to tell my siblings. My dad left the room, retreating to his bedroom and slamming the door. I sensed fear, genuine concern for me, but I do not remember feeling love in that moment.
Based on their response and reactions to me, I immediately went back into the closet. I decided I would concentrate all my efforts into developing my faith and relationship with God. ‘The more I pour into my faith, then maybe I can get rid of my sexuality and same sex attractions.’ This was also congruent to counsel I was receiving at the time through the church. I went on mission’s trips, went to missionary training school, got baptized, became a youth leader and got heavily involved in the worship team at the church. Looking back, these were wonderful, fond and beautiful times for me where my faith grew exponentially. Also, during this time I started to ‘come out’ to select people about my ‘same sex attractions,’ but was telling people this is a ‘struggle and something I am working on.’ I viewed it like any other ‘sin.’
One of those people was my future and current partner, Aleesha. We had grown extremely close over the course of my studies at University, becoming confidants, ‘spiritual partners’ as youth leaders and sharing everything about our lives. I do not remember a specific moment where I ‘told’ Aleesha I was same sex attracted and an ‘ex-gay.’ She says she always knew I was gay, without me ever telling her outright. We had casual conversations about ‘my struggles,’ and would read Bible passages that speak to homosexuality and discussing my future options. But to her, it was not a shock. What confused her was when I eventually told her, ‘I’m going to marry you.’
I grew very close to God and remember ‘hearing’ his voice a lot and being ‘in tune’ with the Holy Spirit. However, there was a part of me that still viewed God in such black and white binary thinking that caused me to put my faith above my sexuality, further suppressing my sexual desires and not addressing that part of me. I dated women during this time (including my now wife). God spoke me that I needed to break up with a previous girlfriend, and told me I was going to marry Aleesha. So I did, because that is the most logical thing a young Christian white male should do when an opportunity presents itself.
I am not doubting that God spoke to me to marry Aleesha – I know He did. Aleesha also started to have very vivid dreams of us together as a couple, and despite her hesitations because of my ‘struggles,’ I also felt God’s voice very clearly. There is this narrative within Christian culture that is so binary focused on finding that opposite sex partner to spend the rest of your life with, start a family, parenting in a Christ-like way – it’s dangerous and it needs to be named, because I fell for it. Aleesha and I had become quite close friends even before we started dating, sharing almost every aspect of our lives with each other, praying, becoming youth leaders and being accountability/spiritual partners. Looking back, I think I mistook this deep sense of spiritual connection as sexual attraction, and even though I was not completely attracted to her, I convinced myself that this part would ‘fall into place’ after we got married. The love of friendship was real. I had always stated I was attracted to Aleesha, so she viewed my attraction to men as no big deal. Looking back, she thought I was bisexual and that was justified with the information I had given to her. Our background and how we were raised didn’t allow us the space to understand our sexuality fully, so we tried to make things fit into place and explain them through the vocabulary we were given as Christian young adults. Romance and sexual attraction were the illusion amidst all this.
We were married in October of 2012 after dating and being engaged for almost 2 years. I distinctly remember being on the stage thinking to myself, ‘You reached this point Jordan. There is no turning back. But are you kidding yourself and everyone else?! Is this really sustainable?’ I quickly pushed those thoughts aside. Life became very busy as we both desired to have children of our own, and very quickly our family grew. I think after about 6 months, I knew my same sex attractions were not going away and I was not fully satisfied. Our relationship was different compared to what it was when we were dating. Instead of just friendship, it was sexual too and that complicated things for me. I didn’t know how to react. I was in a situation I could not escape because divorce was out of the question.
It was a few years later that I started to look for outlets such as porn, dating apps and soon enough, I was meeting guys for fun. I knew I was hurting myself. I knew I was hurting Aleesha and the kids, even though they did not know. But it continued to be a secret and I never got caught, so it continued. Until I made it a New Years Resolution that on January 1st, 2017, I would tell Aleesha I was not sexually attracted to her, and how I was unhealthily dealing with my suppressed sexuality because it was eating me away from the inside out. I bawled. I cried like I have never cried before. As soon as I broke down and told her, I remember saying, ‘So what now? Do you want me to leave?’ We were both sitting there crying and holding each other for dear life. I was surprised to hear, ‘No, never. You are my best friend, who else would I to talk to about all of this? I need you to stay. We will figure it out.’
I expected to be kicked out. Yelled at. But none of that happened and I was shown love.
Even though Aleesha was obviously in an incredible amount of pain, she showed me love, but for her, love wasn’t even a question. Yes, what I shared was extremely painful for her, but later she told me that she was thankful I wasn’t dying, which is initially what she thought I was breaking down to tell her. It was shortly after that, that I came into contact with Generous Space Ministries through a mutual friend who was ironically one of the first gay Christian friends whom I met through an online gay chat site back in high school. Generous Space Ministries has been a breath of fresh air for both Aleesha and I in discovering more about our sexuality and how it is so intricately tied to our faith. Our relationship has evolved and continues to evolve. And there have been many compromises and sacrifices made. We do not regret what has happened in our relationship because there have been so many positives about it. We made do with where we were in our lives and made a decision together we felt was best for us. When we got married, we also were in a place spiritually and personally that determined how we responded. Rather than blame each other, we feel the religious systems have failed us, as well as following the teachings of a literal interpretation of Scripture. We need a queering of Scripture.
This past June, I publicly came out as gay on social media and the response was overwhelmingly positive. When I came out, people inevitably and predictability asked how Aleesha felt about it and asked if we were getting a divorce. This was a valid response. One that has taken me a long time to try to understand and fully process into words. I don’t want to say that my coming out process has been entirely about me because it isn’t and hasn’t been. Aleesha’s life has been incredibly impacted. I used to think (and still do at times) that this is about me and I want it to be just about me. I am incredibly selfish at times and require the reminder to center myself on where I am at in life and my responsibilities. It would be incredibly foolish to not think about my kids and my life partner that I married. My response is that she has been incredibly supportive – the most supportive person (she has encouraged me, supported me and been patient with me as I come to terms with myself, helping me to be a better person and improve in areas that are lacking like confidence, practicing honesty, unconditional love, putting others first, communication), but at the same time, I want to recognize that this journey we are on has been incredibly difficult for both of us and will continue to be. We will both figure out together what we desire moving forward and what works for our family.
I am doing this for the parents/caregivers of LGBTQ2IA+ children, those still in the closet and those out of the closet but facing hardship, who identify with having a faith, and who also identify on the LGBTQ2IA+ spectrum.
I am not sure what this means for our relationship, but I can tell you I will inevitably be looking to have a husband one day. I long for a relationship that fulfills me and how God created me. But for right now we are together, we are living in the same house, currently married, we have 4 children together, family is very important to us and we are currently exploring creative ways of continuing to make all this work.
The reason for publicly announcing my sexual orientation was not just for me, but maybe, just maybe, I am able to reach one other person and tell them they are loved and that their life is worth something, and whether they are in the closet or not, they are recognized and acknowledged where they are in life. They have support, and they are not alone. Or for parents – so they might hear what their children are saying and responding with a curious and knowing heart, free of opinion and judgement, rather than approaching them with, ‘This is what the Bible says.’ In regards to Aleesha and I, I don’t want my story to come across as me being the victim. Technically we are both victims to bad theology and this is what I want to get across by sharing our story publicly. Coming out is possible, and so is being a gay person of faith. To the Christian community, I may be branded as a heretic. So be it. There are others. There are so many people like Aleesha and I and they have been inspirations to me on my own personal journey. Thank you, Josh and Lolly Weed as well as Ali Anne and Kyle Gattison for leading the way and being so public with your journeys.
I have many people in my life who have been supportive of me and Aleesha. My greatest fear and disappointment come from the reaction of certain members of my immediate family and friends whom we thought we were close to in our previous church. I have had many family members act differently towards me, some refuse to speak to me, and others have reached out in support. The feeling of being rejected by those who are ‘supposed to be’ the closest to you is heartbreaking, soul crushing, identity defeating and leaving you feeling like you have no community. Some people have reached out to me warning me about my salvation, invalidating my faith, attacking my character personally, describing me as selfish, militant, and a liar. I have been excluded from serving as an active member in our previous church, been accused of having the intention of leading fellow Christians astray. Some people have stated that I should have ‘dealt with and struggled’ with my feelings privately, instead of coming out publicly, and by doing so that I’m somehow going to be dissolved into the LGBTQ community, which has a perverse value system and is sex worshipping. And I have even received comments of people likening my ‘struggle’ to those using drugs or murderers.
These comments are from self proclaimed Christian family members and friends, and yet somehow, they have stated that they still love me. One would be justified in wondering why I still hold onto my faith. Obviously, I am still very hurt and jaded by these comments but the fact remains that there is still so much work that needs to be done in faith communities to cease these types of comments. They are harmful, bigoted, toxic, homophobic, privileged, abusive, legalistic, conditional love, fear based, stereotyping, shame inducing and guilt tripping. When will we start to listen to other stories? When will we start walking with those on the outskirts? When will we start questioning our own beliefs of Scripture and realizing that is okay?
This message is for people in the faith communities who are quick to make a response and/or a conviction (based on what you interpret as Biblical truth) to state your disagreeance, sadness or anger towards the LGBTQ2IA+ community. I want you to think carefully about your message and why you are making this type of response. What is your purpose? Is it based out of fear? What type of language are you using? This could be a whole other topic that is explored about why a person declaring they identify with the LGBTQ2IA+ community may make you unsettled. But let me remind you that when someone may make a public announcement about their sexuality or gender identity, it is not about you or your opinions. This is a moment of celebration for them, of courage and vulnerability, a declaration of truth telling and a release from secrecy. This is not meant to be political nor a part of a so called ‘gay agenda.’
This is about real lives, lived experiences, self acceptance and freedom from shame because Pride is not about being proud. It is about freedom. It’s about belonging and finding communities that are safe. All my life I have been people pleasing by not sharing this truth about me. Friends, family and for those reading this – I can no longer do that. I am gay. At the same time, I want to remember and recognize that this is not only about me. It’s about Aleesha too. And the kids. The pain is real that we have experienced and continue to experience together. But through all this, our family is constantly changing. I celebrate pride because I want to show that every single day, I grow more intolerant of bigotry and oppression. I hope that one day I can feel safe and confident in how I act or what I wear or who I am attracted to. I will continue to stand in love for my LGBTQ2IA+ siblings.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jordan Oostenbrink of Kelowna, BC, Canada. You can follow his journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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