Monday Musings: Why I Hate Being Mistaken For A Lesbian

“Do you have ‘tendencies?’”

             “You do like men, right?”

                             “So…are you, you know, a lesbian?”

As Executive Director of LOVEboldly, I am sometimes mistaken for a lesbian, and these are all questions I have been asked (directly or indirectly) in the past several months. It seems logical for most people to assume I at least have “tendencies” (their word, not mine) towards the same sex because of the work I do.  Adding to the “suspicions” could be the fact that I’m single and I just happen to live with my very best friend (another female) and, the two of us are very open about our very platonic, but deep, love and appreciation for one another.

For the last few years I have had numerous conversations with folks who have inquired about my sexuality and have even had to assure a man or two that yes indeed, I do like men and no, he is not about to accidentally get caught dating a lesbian if he takes me out.  I like men. It just so happens that muscles, testosterone, five o’clock shadows, and foot-in-mouth syndrome all really do it for me apparently.

There is one reason alone that causes me to really, truly, deeply despise being mistaken for a lesbian and it has nothing to do with a misguided sense of pride in my heterosexuality nor a fearing that my femininity, morality, or character is being called into question.  I hate being mistaken for a lesbian because those who do so demonstrate a very sad truth: that we have become so terribly self-consumed, self-interested, and self-protecting that we must assume that anyone interested in helping someone is doing so for their own personal gain.

No, I’m not a lesbian.  I just love Jesus, and I love those whom he loves. 

Every time someone mistakes me for a lesbian because of the work that I do, I am reminded that the world has grown to believe that true self-giving, sacrificial love that doesn’t serve a personal gain just doesn’t exist anymore. So, of course, I must be a lesbian or else, why would I do this work?  True compassion and goodness towards others has become an outlandish notion in our hedonistic, self-absorbed culture.  I see it held within the disbelieving eyes of all who struggle to believe that I really am straight.

Sacrificial love is exactly the kind that Christ demonstrated for us, and it’s exactly the kind we are called to.  When people ask me why I do this work as a straight Christian my answer is always the same: I do it for love of God.  He loved me sacrificially, so also must I love others sacrificially, and lay down my life for them.  The man who washed Judas’ feet stood nothing to gain save further humiliating himself in front of his betrayer – yet he did it anyway for love of God and love of his neighbor, even his enemy.  This is how we are called to live.  We do what he modeled not because of what we gain, but because He has done it for us first.

Someday perhaps people will be familiar enough with this kind of bold love that they won’t automatically assume that I have ‘tendencies’ anymore.  Until then, I suppose I’ll just smile to myself every time I have to reassure someone that muscles, testosterone, five o’clock shadows, and foot-in-mouth syndrome still really do it for me.

Who is it, what people group is it, that you hold nothing in common with, yet towards whom you can seize the opportunity to selflessly serve this week?  This is what bold love means: serving others because we are called to obedience, no matter whether we anticipate gaining a stitch of self-reward from it or not.

10 thoughts on “Monday Musings: Why I Hate Being Mistaken For A Lesbian

  1. A good word Heidi. Thanks for sharing.

    I found a similar response from the young, typically poor, black kids I worked with as a volunteer for several years. They simply knew there had to be an ulterior motive, as far as I know there usually wasn’t one.

    • John, thanks! To be very honest, I find myself in this post as much as anyone else I have called on the carpet. My own cynicism often gets the best of me, believing others to have ulterior motives more often than not. But, nevertheless, it breaks my heart when I see how hard it is for others, and for myself, to receive the type of grace that really has no strings attached. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Great insight and wit as always. Your words, “The man who washed Judas’ feet stood nothing to gain save further humiliating himself in front of his betrayer – yet he did it anyway for love of God and love of his neighbor, even his enemy. This is how we are called to live.” are spot on.

    The challenge is that like Jesus we are called to show that love indiscriminately…. including towards those from our self absorbed, hedonistic culture, narrow minded Christians, those who play fast and loose with Scriptures, the self righteous, those who betray us etc.

    That is the true challenge for me. People often cite Jesus’ words towards the Pharisees as an model for our response to the self righteous… but I kindly have to inform them that Jesus then went on to die for them on the cross, and as the Pharisees were mocking and reviling Him as he struggled for breath he managed to croak, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

    There’s the rub. I would have saved my breath. I don’t want to love those who oppose me, or mock me, or ridicule what I am doing. In my flesh it is not possible. This is the true call to self denial and to esteem others more highly than myself. Can I see those who persecute me through the lens of the cross and Christ’s shed blood for them….even if they are ignorant?

    That is my prayer. I am not there yet, but someday I hope to be.

    Thanks for all that you do!

  3. I enjoyed this Heidi, because I’ve been there. The suspicion has been there of my ‘tendencies’ as well—especially since I have turned down matchmaking efforts by friends in my church, and they do not see me forming relationships with anyone outside our church. I find myself explaining that no, I’m not a lesbian, but I choose not to date at this time. But then, I feel resentful that I should have to explain it.

    The question also comes up when I have discussed going to the Love Boldly meeting, and from friends who have seen me post it on my Facebook wall. There is such a wall up when I state that I feel led to love people who are oriented differently. I try to explain my views, and still, I do not feel that I am understood.

    The thing that saddens me most when I form a new friendship with a gay/lesbian person is that they expect me to judge them, because that has been their experience with Christians.
    In one current friendship, I find that the couple keeps testing me to see if I’m really as ‘nice’ as all that. Another couple, sees my friendliness as me being afraid to offend them, which it is not. There is so much hurt in this community, and it has been caused by Christians! Neither couple understand yet that it isn’t about being nice or being fearful of giving offense…its about love, and without love nothing I say about God would have any meaning.

    From conservative Christians, especially in my congregation, there is sort of quiet horror (even from my pastor) if I try to bring up the subject of being loving and reaching out to the gay/lesbian community. Even when I point out the love verses in 1 Corinthians and what they have to say about all the manner of ministries and gifts of the spirit and their worth without love (nothing.)

    Personally, I would like to know how to minister to those who are uncomfortable with the gay/lesbian community, but are otherwise well-meaning, caring people. Maybe this is a topic that can be discussed a future meeting?

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and challenges as you work to navigate relationships with folks who have been cast aside by the church. It truly is a difficult task and I just have to say kuddos for charting territory many others are afraid to! I would love to talk more with you about this over a cup of coffee sometime! Give me a shout via email (loveboldlynow@gmail.com) or on Facebook and we can get something set up. Thanks again for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *