Two Variations on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Public Discourse 5 February 2015
I came across a photo the other day of a fifteen-year-old girl dressed in a tuxedo, complete with red bow tie and tails, standing in front of a Christmas tree. She was heading for her high school’s Christmas dance, and her parents had taken pictures beforehand.

Why the tux? She had recently heard of a “gender bending” prom at a nearby school, one where all the girls had worn tuxes along with their dates. She was immediately drawn to the idea. However, at her school, she was the only one in on the twist. In the photo, she is attempting to look cool and smug, but her eyes betray sadness. The sexual identity struggles and confusion that had been quietly welling up within her since middle school were finally emerging for all to see

2015: The Girl in the Tuxedo Goes to the Dance 
After the pictures at home are taken, it’s time to head to the dance. Once she arrives, the girl in the tuxedo attracts attention for her bold choice to subvert gender stereotypes through her choice of attire. Members of her high school’s LGBTQ-Straight Alliance applaud her. Later, when she opens up about the confusion she’s been wrestling with surrounding her feelings toward other girls and her own identity, the “Q” (for “Questioning”) component of such clubs is happy to welcome her and inform her about gay sex and identity.

If she resists embracing a lesbian identity, she is encouraged to come out of denial and accept herself for who she is. If she seeks counseling, her therapist hews to a strict, professionally mandated protocol to affirm and validate her identity as homosexual. The counselor tells her that being lesbian is an unchangeable and good part of who she is, even though the girl is experiencing significant distress over the intense emotional and physical draw she feels toward other girls and women.

1985: The Girl in the Tuxedo Begins a Journey
I was that fifteen-year-old girl in the tuxedo, but my experience was very different from the one promoted by the social values of 2015. What ensued thereafter was a long and sometimes arduous and painful journey of becoming, working out my sexual identity from the cauldron of confusion that surrounded my development.

I have written a little about this journey, wherein I embraced and then renounced an active lesbian life to follow the God who made me and called me by name into His love. I began to trust the One who knew the truth of my identity more than I did, who wrote His image into my being and body as female, and who designed sexuality and set boundaries upon it for my good. I spent well over a decade as a celibate single person. During this time, I felt a wholeness in body, a growing wholeness in my soul, and a greater peace than I could ever have imagined at the age of fifteen. This was more than enough transformation for me, and I was deeply content. However, fifteen years after my tuxedo debut, to my utter surprise, a flicker of heterosexual desire emerged. As I approached forty, I certainly never dreamed I would marry. But now, as I write, I struggle to finish because my youngest child is tugging at my arm. My beloved husband, my children’s father, will soon be home from work.

How grateful I am that the photograph is from 1985, not 2015.
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