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Do Demons Really Make You a Lesbian?

What led me to live in secrecy until college, where therapy helped me break free from internalized fears.

Photo: Nice M Nshuti via Unsplash

My father convinced me that I was possessed by a demon.

It was 1995, and we were driving through the rolling foothills of Georgia, testing out my newly minted learner’s permit.

“Jincey, today I want to talk to you about demons,” my father said, as a small spitball formed on his bottom lip while he talked. “There is a very slick and sly sin called Lust. Oh, yes, the Lust demons are real powerful… they hold sway over sexual things.”

His voice got very low, and whispery, like he was reading me Secrets of State off a confidential government document, “You see, Jincey, demons… they manifest themselves in various ways. The Lust demon sometimes manifests itself in homosexual thoughts.”

Homosexual thoughts? Suddenly I remembered that circa Christmas 1993, my step-grandmother had given me a copy of Cindy Crawford: Shape Your Body Workout. I had used the tape not to shape my buns, but rather to facilitate a newly discovered hobby: masturbation.

My heart raced. I realized that since Cindy Crawford is a woman, lustful thoughts about her must be homosexual in nature. If my thoughts were homosexual, then perhaps I really was locked in the fatal grip of the Lust Monster.

Demon possession sounds very apropos to Halloween. Possession is the sort of thing that is forever explored in scary movies, so much so that it seems comical. However, all you have to do is Google “demons homosexuality” to see that many people actually believe that the root cause of being gay is a demon laying claim to your wanton soul.

Apparently my father was one of those people.

The conversation with my daddy, coupled with my grooming to become an upstanding Southern socialite, forced me to back myself deep into a dark corner of the closet. Way back then, I determined that I would most definitely not relinquish my soul to some dirty demon. However, at a certain point during college, I realized that demon possession is bullshit, and I stopped worrying about it… until I started to have sex with women.

At age 25 I met my first girlfriend. I had been dancing the Horizontal Hokey Pokey with women for several years, but I mostly carried on flings with married women who never slept over at my apartment. So I was terrified when, after several nights of sleepovers with my first girlfriend, I began to see the disfigured face of a demon in place of her beautiful visage.

I thought I was going crazy. With the help of therapy, I came to understand that my horrible visions were nothing more than projections of the internalized fear and shame I felt from having been taught that demons caused gayness. I learned that the stress of being punished for being yourself can lead to all kinds of psychological problems. I’m lucky that I was able to come out safely on the other side of the crazy-making talk of my youth.

Some people are not so lucky. For instance, in January, while on a trip to New York, a Portuguese model violently castrated and killed his boyfriend in an alleged attempt to exorcize gay demons.

Not scary enough for you?

Consider this: 2012 presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann has said, “If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair, and personal enslavement.” In this context, for Evangelical Christians like Bachmann, bondage is simply a synonym for demon possession.

We have a long, long way to go in the fight for our rights. The struggle for gay rights isn’t simply about marriage or health care; it’s about life and death. People kill themselves because they can’t stand the shame of being gay. Likewise, every single day gay people are killed around the world because being gay is seen as disgusting and abnormal. Until the world realizes that being gay is absolutely natural, we gays will always be viewed as “less than” straight people.

Think about it: a scary demon isn’t human, so if people believe there is a demon living in your body, you become “not human” by default. Viewed through this scenario, gay rights are human rights.

Seriously, people, it’s time to stand up and step out of the Dark Ages.

Originally published in The Huffington Post on November 2, 2011

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