Life can throw you the biggest curveballs sometimes. You think something is black, and then damn if the next day doesn’t make it white. I have learned that life is gray, and that things rarely happen the way you think they might. The unpredictable is the only thing that is predictable.
I have a good friend named Amber. We first met while working at a gay bar in Nashville. I moved there in 2001 with my bandmate, David. She was a small, cute girl, very popular, with a lot of energy, and a contagious smile. Amber really came into the picture when David and I started having band problems—they started partying together.
I remember the day he told me Amber was pregnant. Obviously, I was in shock. David was into guys and Amber was into girls—the math did not compute. How in the world did they end up sleeping together? I learned that it had a lot to do with Jägermeister. Things moved rapidly after that. They decided to keep the baby; they ended up moving out to CA; and then, they “found” God and got married. I started wondering if I even knew my friend anymore. How do two gay people end up pregnant, married, and walking with God?
I was suspect at first—I really despise all the ex-gay stuff, and so many people I had known who had tried to change their sexuality for God or the church were either miserable or dead. Me being so black and white (and very gay), I could not understand how Amber could be gay one day, and straight, married, and Christian the next. I thought—there is no way she could really be happy.
But she is—and they have both taught me a lot about life and love. They never tried to get me to “change,” nor have they ever made me feel like I had to hide who I was. But it blows my mind: how can all these commonly disparate things co-exist? How can I get an email from Amber asking me about whether my partner and I will be doing artificial insemination and talking about our kids playing together while concluding with “I will pray for you?”
Bella, their two-year-old daughter, is a beautiful, smart, and mischievous little girl. With their son, JP, on the way, I asked Amber some questions about her journey and the direction her life has taken. I knew there was an interesting story behind this happy woman and amazing mother—but what I found was so much more than what I even expected.
Q: Did you date boys or girls or both when you were growing up?
A: I had boyfriends growing up just to shut up my sister, who knew I was a lesbian and teased me about it. I didn’t look or act like a tomboy when I was growing up, but I loved sports and videogames, which was what I did with my “boyfriends,” avoiding physical contact with them at all costs! I had crushes on babysitters, teachers, and other attractive older women, but never girls my own age until college. The pressure to be straight was great, and I feared that if I didn’t have a boyfriend, my family would get suspicious. I feared being outcast by my friends and family.
Q: Did you grow up with a lot of religion in your household?
A: My mom was raised in a very strict Christian household, but she rebelled heavily from it. My dad has never been a religious individual … I grew up being sent to church on Sundays with my mother’s parents while my parents stayed home and slept off hangovers … My grandparents played a big part in shaping me spiritually—they tried to pour as much Christ into us as they had time to, trying to “undo” or “reset” what my parents were displaying to us with their lives. I soaked in more of God’s Word and took hold of it, and I wonder sometimes if this was because I wanted so badly to be straight. I really grasped what the Bible said and felt a strong connection with God and Jesus at a very young age. He was one of the warmest, realest, most peaceful things I had in my life as a child. He was always there, even when I felt I didn’t deserve him to be so near to me because I might be gay.
Q: Did you come out? Did you feel bisexual or had you always felt like a lesbian?
A: I came out to my mom on my nineteenth birthday … my mom was getting remarried, as fate would have it, so she took it great. She said she’d always suspected I was attracted to women and a few of her gay friends always thought I was gay. I never thought of myself as bisexual because I wasn’t attracted to men and had only ever had love and sexual feelings for women.
Q: What event(s) precipitated you coming back to God?
A: There’s never been a moment in my life I didn’t believe in God or Jesus. But I did quit going to church and reading my Bible as often when I was at my partying peaks. In order to numb myself from feeling guilty or convicted for my sexuality, I began drinking and doing drugs heavily at age twenty-one. On one of my drunken binges, I slept with a gay coworker (David). My absolute breaking point before nearly killing myself with drugs or liver failure was finding out I was pregnant. The only place to go for true direction was God. I broke up with my girlfriend at the time, didn’t take another drink, and haven’t thought about drugs since. I needed to clear my head completely of all distractions and realize I had someone else to think about, someone who would be completely dependant on me for life, well-being, and happiness. Being pregnant was the most eye-opening experience I’ve ever had.
Q: Did you feel like things just switched inside you? Like one minute you were gay, and the next you were straight?
A: After a long night of deep, heart-felt discussion and prayer with Dave, I woke up the following morning and felt different. I felt happier, more at ease, and the sun seemed to shine a little brighter. I didn’t feel gay or straight, I simply woke up with feelings for Dave and a real peace from God to marry him. The feelings have grown and multiplied over time, so that part has been gradual and wonderful. But there was a significant change of heart and feelings in me that morning that I’ll never forget. I feel stronger and more confident in my love for Dave than I ever have for anyone.
Q: Were you praying to God for guidance or did He just kind of show up one day and change your life?
A: I prayed so much when I was pregnant! It was a very scary time of change in my life and focusing on God was one thing that gave me real, lasting peace, especially in the tougher times. When God “speaks” to me, I don’t hear an actual voice, it’s more like a strong message that comes into my mind when I least expect it, and total peace and assurance accompany it. I don’t always like or want to do what God tells me, but there is no doubt in my mind that when I get a message and hear from Him, it’s the right thing.
Q: How does your current church community feel about your past?
A: No one embraced me and took me in like my church family! They’ve been unbelievable, I can hardly describe it. Everyone has a past or is dealing with sin, or else why would we all need Christ? No one realizes that like someone who is truly walking with God and actively seeking a relationship with Him and His Son. If we aren’t all born with a sinful nature and things that we will each personally struggle with, then Jesus Christ died on the cross in vain. We are all empty, broken, searching, and fighting through life aimlessly from one thing to the other without Jesus.
Q: What do you think God wants for you? What did He have planned for you?
A: God wants me to have the best life possible while I’m here on earth, and no one knows more about me and exactly what I need than my Creator. I can only see in hindsight what was best for me, and I can say with every ounce of my being that God’s way for me has been infinitely more fulfilling and happier than anything I could have ever planned! God’s plan for me was to be Dave’s wife, the mother of Isabella and JP, and to have this colorful past that I can use to minister to and care for others who are broken and lost that God sees fit to put in my life.
Q: Is there anything you miss about being gay? Do you ever have second thoughts?
A: There’s nothing I particularly miss about “being gay,” it’s not really different from my life now, I just fell in love with and chose to marry a man instead of a woman. Before I got pregnant and married Dave, I had gay and straight friends, and that hasn’t changed. I can’t say I’ve ever had second thoughts.
Q: What do you think of the big ex-gay movement? Do you think that your experience is unique or common?
A: I sincerely hope those involved in the “ex-gay movement” are happy with their life choices, Christian or non-Christian. I think it’s quite common in our society to change your mind halfway through your adult life. I knew of many lesbians who came out after being straight and married to a man for years. I think this topic goes either way—people make a decision in their late teens or early twenties and change their minds when they hit their thirties or forties. Mid-life crisis is a pretty common term, right?!
Q: In your words, describe the transformation that you went through.
A: The short answer is this: I finally made a commitment to one person and to God and I’m committed to seeing it through until the day I die. Infidelity or divorce are not options.
Q: Are you happy?
A: I have no words for how happy I am and how happy Dave, Bella, and above all, my Lord and Savior make me!
I have learned a lot from Amber and David, but mostly what I have learned is that love—whether for your partner, your friend, your child, or your God—is never black and white. Love transcends everything—sexuality, expectations, and yes, even Jägermeister.
Photo courtesy of Amber