Well, if I new at 19 that I would end up doing what I did yesterday I would have been mortified.
I had a Facebook note which I had written earlier, I posted it at the same time as changing my “Interested In”:
I am gay. This is going to be a big shock for many of you. It’s not a prank. No one has taken over my Facebook account. It’s been a secret I have kept for quite a few years and it is only recently that my circumstances have changed so that I can be honest with all of you. I am also a committed Christian and if you know me well you know how much God means to me. Thus I have a story to tell.
I remember feeling attracted to other guys when I was 12 years old (about the time I started High School). I didn’t really know what to make of it at the time, I just thought it must be crazy hormones and that it would go away. I mentioned it in passing to a friend and he said much the same thing.
For the rest of High School I basically just ignored it. I didn’t “act gay” so I fortunately avoided all the bullying which LGBT youth usually face. The only noticeable difference between myself and the other guys is that I didn’t gawk over girls the way that they did.
It wasn’t until university that I confronted the truth. I was attracted to other guys and I wasn’t growing out of it. I didn’t take it well. Being gay didn’t stop me from being homophobic. I hated it. I was depressed for weeks. I felt deeply ashamed for something I never choose. I distinctly remember thinking that being gay was so bad that I couldn’t tell anyone ever. I resolved to change my sexuality.
So for the next several years I did the Christian thing to do: I prayed. I spent countless nights secretly crying out to God so that he might save me. I was desperate – truly desperate – to be free of this affliction that I had never chosen for myself.
Time and time again my prayers were left unanswered. I didn’t understand. Didn’t God love me? Didn’t God heal and save and redeem and do all these other wonderful things? I wasn’t praying for an Xbox or a parking space I was praying for something that God supposedly wanted for me. Why wouldn’t he answer?
I also searched out all the ex-gay material I could find. It said that I was emasculated and that I could become straight if I just tried to be more like the manly stereotype. So I started hiking, hoping my gayness would just kind of fall off on one of the trips. I worked out at the gym. I took a stand on various justice issues. I indulged myself in many, many new experiences. I committed myself to work. I did this all in a vain attempt to wash myself clean in a flood of masculinity. I don’t even regret it; but it never worked.
The ironic thing was that even whilst I was trying to be a “real man” I had shown more courage and strength than most straight guys will ever have to: I’d come out. Over the years I came out to a very small handful of close, Christian friends. I picked fairly well. They didn’t really know what to do but they did accept me and it felt great just knowing that others knew my situation and didn’t treat me like a leper because of it.
I also found one other friend who was struggling with the same things as me. He was gay and in the closet and struggling to change his sexuality. I was very fortunate to have someone who understood me. Unfortunately he was not as lucky to find the same acceptance amongst his friends as I had. He applied for a bible college but when they found out he was gay they wouldn’t let him in and then they basically outed him to his family, who were not supportive. He found no love within Christianity and ended up moving out of town, losing his faith and becoming everything the church had told him that gay people were.
This was very confronting for me. I had to finally accept the truth: There was nothing I could do to stop being gay. God was not going to heal me. Yet for me being a Christian and being gay were irreconcilable. It was like I was torn between being gay and being a Christian and that I couldn’t be both.
I finally did what I should have done many years ago – I studied what the bible truly said about homosexuality. I spent months learning as much as I could and I was concerned about my own bias interfering with the truth. I expected the arguments saying homosexuality was ok to be weak, instead I found the opposite. I was surprised. I intellectually acknowledged what I had learnt long before I emotionally did. It may seem hard to believe, but studying the bible led me to accepting myself just as I am.
I felt like I was breaking new ground – being gay and a Christian and believing God was ok with it. I didn’t know anything about what I was doing. I knew barely any openly gay people. I felt quite lonely. I sought out other people like me and after several months I found them. The Christian gay community is alive and well. They are great people who don’t at all confirm the stereotype that the church and media makes for gay people. They helped me with the next steps in my journey.
I came out to my parents on boxing day. I had no idea what to expect but was amazed by how accepting and supportive my family were. Sure, it has been difficult for them but they have made their love for me very clear. I am very blessed. I have a supportive family, I have supportive friends – so much more than many people in my situation.
It is no longer my intention to keep my homosexuality a secret. I intend to live as a God-fearing gay man inside the Church and inside the LGBT community. In both environments I will do what God has asked me to do: seek justice for the vulnerable; give mercy to those who I do not understand; and live humbly, remembering that ultimately only God can save our world, or myself.
This last year has been the best year in my life. Feelings of shame have been replaced with feelings of acceptance and belonging. I truly believe that God loves me and I can only assume that He made me gay because He thought that I might enjoy it. It has been a long journey to get to this point but it has made me the happy, confident man that I am today. My experience has given me a special concern for society’s rejects and as a gay Christian I have so many exciting opportunities to kindly present God’s love in a way few can.
If you are reading this it is because I count you as a friend. I hope you realise that I am the same person you knew before you read this, the only difference is that you now know more about me than you did before. You may be shocked, and you may feel betrayed. Please understand that it has not been my desire to lie to you. It’s just been a painful necessity whilst I sorted myself out over the last few years. You may also disagree with some of my conclusions, but I hope this won’t affect our friendship. Most of you are Christians, so I hope that you’ll show me love in the same way that Jesus would.
I should point out that I had very much tightened up the privacy settings on by FB account before doing this. It just makes it a bit easier.
I was actually chatting to gettingthere whilst I did it. I think it made things easier to have the distraction and it meant that he was one of the first people to read it (though my flatmate beat him to the end). He pointed out that it is long, but any note starting with “I am Gay” is sure to get read.
After posting the note I sent two PM to supporters about it. It felt great to be able to have such a large group of people behind me.
I got a few comments as well as PMs and a phone call. I think lots more people have read it and have not responded yet. No one has been really negative yet. A few people have said that they disagree with me but will still be my friend. Many of the people who read it go to my old church, so I’ll be heading back there on Sunday so that they can see me face to face.
One of the people who commented is the pastor of a local church which is a serious candidate as a new place for me. He said he was happy to talk about it sometime. So maybe I’ll end up catching up with him.