love endures.

one year ago today, I told the world my greatest secret.

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. ūüėČ

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 Yours,
Simply Lando ‚̧

a love that perseveres. ‚ô•Ôłé

my identity rests not in who I love, but rather, who loved me first.

As you read this, you may be coming from a very different experience from myself.  That is okay.  I do not write this testimony out of judgment of others’ beliefs, or under the assumption that I have it all figured out.  I really don’t.  Rather, I’d like to offer a perspective that some may have not yet considered.

I always knew that I was different.  Growing up, I got really good at convincing myself that I just hadn‚Äôt found the right person ‚Ķ that the girl of my dreams was somewhere out there, somewhere close.  As high school came to a close, I was ready to move into a new chapter of life.  As I saw it, college was an opportunity to shed all of my past demons and begin anew.

 I was hopeful ‚Ķ

Freshman year came and went, a time for growth, a time for adjustment, a time for new friends.  I had an incredible experience.  I loved my school, I loved my roommate, and I loved thinking about what the future could hold.  I never thought about confronting what was inside; for better or for worse, ignorance was bliss.  I didn‚Äôt want to think about my feelings because I was terrified of what I might find.

I was afraid …

Freshman year came to a close.  It was summertime now.  I was getting ready to begin my summer job on campus and as far as I could tell, all was falling into place.  I had no idea the conversations that were in store or the truth within myself that would be unraveled oh, so soon.

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The summer of 2016 was one of the most formative summers of my life. ¬†For the first time ever, I began to come to terms with¬†who I was … and it wasn’t easy. ¬†The first friend I ever opened up to about my sexuality was someone who experienced similar feelings as I did. ¬†For those who don’t know, I experience¬†same-sex attraction. ¬†When I first came to terms with this, I was scared sick. ¬†Growing up, I was always taught that homosexuality was a sin and that it didn’t line up with scripture; however, I was also taught never to condemn, but only to love others the way Christ loves me. ¬†So, there I was, a then 19-year-old Landon, trying to understand the juxtaposition between what I believed and what I felt inside.

Moving forward …

During my sophomore year of college, I began opening up to my close friends about the secret I had been harboring for 19 long years.  Most of these conversations began and ended in tears.  My biggest fear was that they wouldn’t look at me the same way, and that I would make them feel awkward, especially if they were a dude.  Luckily, I have the greatest friends in the entire world, and none of these fears ever surfaced.  During that same year, I began reading up on others’ stories that were similar to mine.  I was tirelessly looking for a community of people I could confide in, and I wanted to hear testimonies from people of faith who also had questions about their sexuality.  I learned more about what same-sex attraction was, and began assessing my options.

Affirmation¬†or¬†suppression¬†…¬†those seemed like the only two options I had at the time. ¬†On one hand, I wanted to justify what I felt inside, but I was scared to death of being wrong, and I was afraid some people wouldn’t love me the same if they knew what I was going through. ¬†On the other hand, I wanted to bury my feelings deep inside my heart until I couldn’t hold them back any longer. ¬†If you know me, I’m an open book and I wear my emotions on my sleeve, so that second option didn’t seem ideal either. ¬†I wanted so badly to be able to share my story, but I was afraid of the social repercussions that would take place. ¬†Here I am, though, 664 words in, and I’m not turning back.

What is my identity?

Today, I still struggle to understand this part of my story.  To be completely honest, the past few months have been really difficult for me.  I’ve been experiencing a lot of loneliness, coupled with the desire for a Christ-centered relationship with another person.  I’ve been struggling a lot with jealousy, too.  When I hear about others’ relationships, I can’t help but wish I was in their shoes.  Sometimes, I wish I knew what heartbreak felt like.  The only heartbreak I know is the kind you feel when you can’t tell someone how much you love them.  I haven’t been in a relationship since freshman year of high school, and it pains me to think about being single for the rest of my life.  There are times when I get angry with God because I don’t feel like He is redeeming the pain I am feeling.  I’ve been learning the virtue of patience, to say the least.

He is who He says He is.  Isaiah 41:10 reads, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  I am still learning to accept that verse as we speak.  Sometimes, I feel like I am out of the realm of God’s grace, like I’m taking a test that I will never pass.  Other times, I am reminded of the the way God’s heart broke when he watched His son hang on a cross, beaten and bloodied, for remission of all sin and suffering in the world .  He did that for us.  He watched His son pay the ultimate price so I would never have to feel alone.  Although I forget about His abounding grace more than I should, I am in awe of what He has done for me, for you, and for all of us.

I am still wrestling with what I believe about human sexuality.  Although I have decided to choose celibacy in my own life, I understand others may not choose the same, and I respect that.  I have many LGBT friends who are very happy in their relationships, and I want to continue loving them unconditionally, and showing them that Christ loves them even more.

What I’ve learned …

I have learned to value friendship as one of the greatest gifts from God.  I know I don’t have to be in a “relationship” to experience the love that comes from a true friend.  I cherish this brotherly and sisterly love more than I ever have, and I think that explains why I get so attached to people so quickly.  I believe the Lord provided us with friends because He knew that we couldn’t do life alone, and boy was He right.  I love my friends and family more than words can say, and that love only continues to grow over time.

I have learned that my journey is one of high mountains and deep valleys.  There are some days when it’s hard to even leave my bed because of the shame and fear I feel in my heart; however, on other days, I am reminded that I am stuck (as a good friend put it) in God’s everlasting grace and mercy.  There is no escaping it!  Fear is a liar, and shame has NO place in my life (or yours, for that matter)!

I have learned that I can be myself without any reservations, because of the freedom I have in Christ.  My identity comes not from whom I love or am attracted to, but from the One who loved me first.  I get chills just thinking about that.  The victory has already been won … no matter what I am going through or struggling with, God has redeemed it.  He continues to make us new every single day.

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My promise to you.

I know this is probably a lot to take in.  I also understand that some of you may not necessarily agree with how I have decided to approach my sexuality.  It may seem like I am suppressing what’s inside, and that can be frustrating to some people.  If you feel that way, please reach out to me.  I’d love to get coffee and chat about my journey face-to-face.  I love hearing others’ stories and finding common ground in the midst of very different experiences.

To some of you, this testimony may be very similar to your own.  If you ever want to talk more about this subject, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.  I believe a loving community is one of the most important things we can have in our lives.  Growth, healing, and joy are all things Christ-centered community have brought me in very turbulent seasons of life.  I am always here for you, no matter what.

My promise to you all is that regardless of how different our stories may be, I will continue to put love at the forefront of my faith.  The Lord says it quite simply in John 15:12: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

I want to thank you with my whole heart for taking your precious time to read my story.  My hope is that it will help someone else who is afraid to confront what’s inside, while also providing a bit more context on the very complicated intersection of faith and sexuality.

Go in peace and know that you are His, no matter what.

Simply Yours,
Simply Lando ‚ô•