A new room, a new city, a new state, a new year, the same nervous Landon. While it is a blessing to have the space to share my heart with you all, it is never unaccompanied by anxiety or fear. Those two things always love to tag along. On this day, exactly one year ago, I told you one of the greatest secrets I had been harboring for 21 long years: that I experience same-sex attraction. Juggling this part of my identity has been extremely difficult, especially in the way that my faith has informed and shaped my view of human sexuality. Today, I sit in reflection over how the Lord has shown me the utmost compassion in one of the most challenging seasons of my life. Let me start by saying thank you for taking time out of your precious day to hear more of my testimony. Honesty and authenticity is truly a weapon for the Kingdom of God, and I’m doing my best every day to lead with a truthful, kind, and compassionate heart.
this year has felt lonely.
The last time I went into detail about my sexual orientation, I told you that I was pursuing celibacy. Many of you probably know what celibacy is, but just in case you don’t, it is essentially the abstinence from marriage or any sort of sexual intimacy with another person. To a lot of people, this may seem like a self-deprecating (and nearly impossible) journey. To be real with you, sometimes it feels that way. I would be lying if I told you that this last year wasn’t fraught with struggles of purity. The temptation to lust over the internet is all too real and is certainly something that I have to fight every day. The thought of never having intimacy with another person can make it easy to turn to things that provide temporary, yet unfulfilling, satisfaction. I believe celibacy is a calling, but I don’t believe it is easy. I have had some long, painful nights where all I wanted was to feel someone else beside me. With all of this in mind, there is still redemption, but you have to keep reading. 😉
While the feeling of loneliness has knocked me upside the head one too many times this year, I would be remiss to highlight just how amazing my support system has been. It’s almost as if I’ve been adopted into a family of believers who are willing to fight for me no matter what. The number of people I have been able to confide in has been utterly amazing and has reminded me of the sovereign nature of our Lord. One of my best friends, Taylor Brown, told me this (which I’ve since tattooed on my brain): “If you ever need a home, you have one with me, bro.” One of the most special parts of true Christian community is that you never have to feel pain alone. When I hurt, my brothers and sisters hurt. When they hurt, I hurt. Satan is always looking for ways to convince us that we have nothing — that we are worthless. The crazy thing is, we try to validate these stupid lies, no matter how fallacious they are. So, for those of you experiencing loneliness in any capacity, know that it is not permanent. It is a feeling (and not a fun one), but the Lord never abandons us. Let my story be a testament to that.
loving my marginalized brothers and sisters.
While my journey hasn’t been easy, it pales in comparison to many of the horrors the LGBT+ community has undergone. I realize the immense privilege I have just by being a white, cisgender male. This week, in particular, we remember and honor the 49 lives that were lost (and 53 that were wounded) in the Pulse Nightclub shooting. This breaks my heart into a million pieces. These human beings were robbed of one of God’s most beautiful gifts because of the hate that one man held in his heart. It’s not fair, nor is it something that we can be complacent about. Precious lives are depending on our action. Instead of always trying to tell another person’s story, we should fight to amplify the voices of those who are being oppressed, giving them the platform to tell their story. Privilege is powerful, and when used responsibly, can be an agent for great change.
As someone who is involved in a Christian community, I believe it is my responsibility to help educate the church about issues particularly surrounding the LGBT+ community. The church should be the safest place for an individual to wrestle with whatever they are going through and should never be a place where they feel threatened or condemned. With as nuanced of a subject as faith and sexuality is, we cannot continue to live exclusively under labels. Some of you may know that I don’t typically refer to myself as “gay.” Yes, I have a homosexual orientation, but the term gay isn’t fully representative of my individual journey. I do not, however, want to minimize others’ experiences, and I absolutely respect people who are comfortable operating under these labels. Personally, I see my sexuality as a very small part of my overall identity, and I would rather have a conversation about my identity in Christ and how it has impacted how I approach this area of my life.
this isn’t a phase for me.
One of the greatest misconceptions about “gay, celibate Christians” is that they just haven’t fully accepted themselves yet. To be brutally honest, I have. I know what my reality is. I know that I can’t look at a girl and get the butterflies that many of my friends can. I know the heartbreak of loving someone who could never love me back. I fully know that my being called to celibacy is not for everyone, and I respect that. However, I don’t want to feel like I have to tell people that I’m still “working through things.” Maybe I’m not. Maybe I’ve actually made my mind up about how I am going to approach this intersection in my life. Now, this is not to say that I won’t continue studying what the Bible says about human sexuality and how that impacts my life. That is a huge passion of mine. However, I see immense value in focusing on equipping the church with resources that make LGBT+ people feel safer and more loved than they ever have before. Just because I don’t necessarily pursue the same journey as other people in my position doesn’t mean that I’m done fighting for those who are being persecuted. (Being gay is actually still punishable by death in multiple countries, if you can even wrap your head around that). That has to change.
leading with love.
My greatest prayer is that I can bring awareness to an issue that isn’t talked about enough in our churches. The conversations I’ve been able to have with others in a similar place as myself has been one of the most inspiring parts of this year. I truly have found community in places I never thought I would. If I could request one thing from you, it would be this: that you would take joy in pouring into those whose journeys look different from yours. I’m not asking anything of you that I’m not asking of myself. Whether you can fully understand the position your neighbor is in, give them the space to be vulnerable and tell their story. Having conversations about sexuality has gotten easier for me, but only because I have gotten comfortable asking (and being asked) the tough questions. I like to define love as the overwhelming compassion for another person, despite the labels that are thrown at them. Psalm 23, one of the most quotable psalms of the Bible, highlights the inexplicable nature of God’s love. It is written in the present-tense, implying that the Lord’s pursuit of us is unending. “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” Y’all, it’s time to fully live into this psalm. I’m telling you, Satan QUAKES when we utter this truth!
continuing the conversation.
As always, let it be known that I am always open to fruitful conversation about the topic of faith and sexuality, or any topic for that matter! If you’re ever in need of a friend, or someone who is willing to dive deep into difficult conversations, my door is always open. I could never repay the friends, family, and mentors who have given me the space necessary to share my story, but I sure can pay it forward by being that same safe space for others. Let’s build the Kingdom one testimony at a time.
Simply Lando ❤