Hey all, my name's Chris. I apologise in advance for how long a read this is bound to end up being, feel free to skip to the end.
I'm 29, I'm a Christian, and I've known I was gay since I was about 13.
However, all my life, I've been told that it's wrong. This began when a letter between myself and a female school friend whom I'd confided in, was found by my foster mother. Her and my foster father confronted me on it, and while they did their best to be loving, they were not accepting at the time. They arranged for me to see the minister in the church for counselling. I had a few sessions there, but I never felt they really got anywhere.
At around 17 I got into a relationship with a guy of the same age, which ultimately was ended by me because I felt so guilty, and that it was so wrong.
At around 19, I entered another relationship, which also ended the same way only a couple months later when the guilt and shame became stronger than the need for partnership.
In both cases, it wasn't a quick ending. It was painful, for them and for me. After the second one, I promised myself that I wouldn't pursue any more relationships, because I knew the same thing would happen again, and couldn't go through that myself, or put anyone else through it again.
In my mid-twenties, I found Living Waters Ministries. I ended up attending regular meetings for over a year, where the group would study, pray, and share where each had fallen over in terms of lustful thoughts, pornography or relations with others. At first it gave me quite a lot of hope, that there was "healing" possible, but nothing eventuated and I found myself going around in the same spiral of shame, depression and non-acceptance.
2011-2012 felt pretty rough. I endured the loss of a very dear family friend, an uncle and my grandfather. I was in the middle of my parents' messy separation. I had some reasonably serious health issues. I was in a car accident that wrote my car off, which was the straw that broke the camel's metaphorical back, spiralling me into a depression which lasted about 8 months. However, I came through that.
Late 2014, one of my closest friends of 10 years was discovered sexually abusing his 16 year old daughter, and had apparently been doing so for 2 years. I had become a part of their family over that 10 years, and I was pretty gutted by just how horrible a situation had come out, tearing that family unit apart. That's still ongoing now in terms of legal processes, but I've distanced myself from that.
Fast forward to last day of 2014, New Year's Eve. At a work friends' house party. As we walked down the hallway he mentioned that he had cleaned his room, hoping to 'score' with his on-again-off-again girlfriend because it had been about 9 months since he had. I laughed along, but that was the exact moment that sent me into a deep dark mess, which I'm still struggling with 2 and a half months later. I got such a deep, painful pang of loneliness and hopelessness. The thought that I would never experience that again, the thought that I'm turning 30 this year, and the thought that I've got the rest of my life to live like this.
Since that night, I've had regular 'episodes' of panic, reliving the emotion I felt. I get hot/cold flushes, my heart races, and I get nauseous. About one in 3 nights I've spent time in my bedroom just crying.
About a month ago I confided in a work colleague that I was really not having a good time. I told her all the "reasons" I mentioned about about losing family members, the car crash, the 10-year friend abusing his daughter, but not that I'm gay. I told her how detrimental it's been to my daily life, that I just want to go home and hide all the time, avoiding socialising. That it's made me irritable and unapproachable at work.
She's had some health issues of her own which have been wearing on her sanity badly, so we made a pact that if we both weren't feeling any different in a week or two, we'd contact the free confidential counselling service provided by our work.
A week later (early this month), I was on the phone with them. Again, I talked about all the other stuff, but not the gay topic. I said that I was lonely having lost a close friend. He asked me if I had a partner, or what the story was there. I said I hadn't for a long time – I was pressed a little further. I told him 10 years. I used gender-neutral terms the whole way through, paranoid that if I bought up that I was gay, that I would be pushed to embrace it, when I felt it was wrong. He suggested that maybe I could look at trying to find someone and having a go at dating again. I kind of left it at “yeah, maybe”.
Around the same time as this, I reached out to my foster mother (I still see them both regularly) via text message, and told her that I felt I was struggling with anxiety/depression. She loved on me so much with her responses it made me cry in a meeting room at work. She also said she had something really deep and personal she wanted to talk to me about when an appropriate time came up, but not to worry, that it was a “good” thing.
A few days later I was alone with her, and she raised the topic. She said I could tell her to shut up if I wanted to, but she wanted to talk about my “gayness” as she put it. She clearly felt awkward, but she’s part of the older generation and I don’t blame her for that.
What she said next touched me very deeply. She said that her life experience had changed her views, and that if I felt that it was the life for me, that I should live it. She told me that she would welcome any partner of mine into her home, and that she would even attend a gay wedding if things went that way. It took every bit of strength not to burst into tears!
After that, for the first time, I seriously looked into the alternative viewpoint that God was OK with me being gay and living that way. I found articles talking about the biology of homosexuality, and for the first time felt like maybe God did make me this way, even that part of me. That it wasn't a “corruption” or “evil” that happened sometime during my lifetime. Maybe it didn't need to be prayed out of me by “concerned” church members.
Further to that, I found articles discussing Bible passages, and providing alternate viewpoints, considering context, translation, and the society of the time.
I'm still seeking out more, hoping to see God further revealed through what I'm learning.
Yesterday evening, I had my second counselling phone call. I decided “screw it” and told him the real deal. He took it really well, saying he guessed it already after I was avoiding the topic last time. It also turned out that he was a Christian as well. He was really affirming. I was a bit blown away by how much better it had gone than I expected.
That all leads to where I am right now. I want to learn more, and I yearn to feel more confident in what I'm learning, because 15 years of being told otherwise is really, really hard to shake.
I'm thinking of going to the Melbourne meeting this Friday ( http://www.freedom2b.org/rsvpmaker/freedom2b-melbourne-march-meeting-the-wise-kids-2015-3-20/ ), but I'm so nervous.
I'm finding hope in what I'm reading and learning, but I'm scared at the same time. What if it’s wrong? Or just as scary, what if it’s RIGHT? I've got 15 years of being told it’s wrong, how can I possibly rewire my brain to not associate gay with shame? How will the rest of my family and friends take it?
If you've made it this far, thanks so much for reading – and maybe let me know if you’ll be there on Friday, I could do with a friendly face.