My story, as requested (sorry for the wall of text):
I am gay. 8)
I’ve been sexually attracted to other males for as long as I can remember being sexually attracted to anyone. In my case, that since about 12 years old – or the start of High School.
Early high school is the most ridiculous time in any young person’s life. The melodrama of who-likes-who would be laughable if it wasn’t taken so seriously by those who participate. It was the beginning of many, long awkward years for me. I did not participate. I convinced myself of two lies as a way of excusing my feelings towards boys, rather than girls:
1. I told myself that I would grow out of it, that when you’re growing up all sorts of weird hormonal stuff happens
2. I told myself that I was directing my lust at guys in order to avoid the temptation of girls. Since as a good, christian kid I was not suppose to lust after girls. (Yeah, pretty ridiculous, but it is amazing what you will believe when you need to)
They were lies I told myself right through high school. I would never admit to myself that I was gay. I was a good, evangelical, Christian role model. I grew up in Revival Centers and, later, the AOG. I was on the church youth group committee. I was the son of a church elder. 0:) I hated homosexuals. They were sinners. They were gross. They would go to hell. It’s what everyone around me believed and I believed it too. I could as long as I kept my feelings under wraps – as long as I kept lying to myself.
It all came undone for me at university. H) Uni is a lonely place after high school, especially as I didn’t have any church friends at the time either.. The lies came undone. I had to finally come out to the most judgemental person I knew – myself.
I didn’t take it very well. I remember shame at a level I now can scarcely believe I survived. The devil’s words still ring in my ears: “You can never tell anyone. Ever.” I had only just turned 19.
God rescued me from that. There is no other way of putting it. On one weekend at a Student Life (Australian branding of Campus Crusade for Christ) camp I was reminded of His love and ability to redeem. I resolved myself to make new friends, get involved in church again, and to turn straight.
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 x-box or a parking space I was praying for something that God apparently wanted for me. Why wouldn’t he answer?
When prayer wouldn’t work I searched for all the ex-gay resources I could find. They all said much the same thing: my problem was due to some damage I received during my upbringing. I had a great mother and father and was never abused but the ex-gay material would help me find people to blame. So I did blame people, and I later had to forgive those people for stuff they never did.
The ex-gay material also instructed me to fix myself by reconnecting with my masculinity. 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 even asked a girl out; though I was more attracted to being straight than I was to her (I thank God she said, “no”). 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. After all, the closer I grew with my friends the harder it became to not feel like a faker when I was carrying such a secret. Coming out is really hard. It is the only thing that has ever made my hands shake – every, single time. :Sp
Fortunately for me, I mostly chose well. No one rejected me out right which was helpful as it helped me to accept myself. At least this seemed true so long as homosexuality was something I “struggled” with. Yet the people I told were not very helpful either. The first two (the earliest of which I told at just 13) basically dismissed it as awkward adolescent problems. The third one didn’t even reply to my emailed confession. The others barely talked to me about it unless I bought it up with them. But then, why should they be helpful? I have never heard of a church doing a sermon on what-to-do-when-someone-comes-out-to-you. Homosexuality does not make for good small talk.
Except for one friend. He was also gay, and a christian. Unlike so many other people in my situation I was uniquely blessed with someone that understood me.
But then he was denied entry into bible college (which he had set his heart on) when one of the administrators found out. The same administrator told his parents his secret. That began a slow and painful withdrawal from Christianity for him. He ended up in Melbourne, having completely abandoned God and delved into everything I feared was part of the GLBT lifestyle (and he does encourage me to do the same).
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.
I had to choose between being a Christian and being Gay.
It was a terrible decision for me. Despite the immeasurable pain my fellow christian friends had unknowingly caused me as a closeted gay man, I still loved Jesus. But I had done everything I could do. I was tired of fighting it. I was at the end of my rope. What more could God ask? You can’t be gay and a christian.
Or could you? It was one possibility that I had never dare entertained: that homosexuality was not a sin; that Gad had made me the way I am; that it was OK. I hated being gay. I hated that part of me. Yet I was willing to test the possibility in one last effort to avert atheism.
I spent a couple of months searching out every argument for and against homosexuality that I could find. Slowly my mind began to soften. I began to intellectually acknowledge that many things were not as I had believed my whole life. That gay people were not as evil, nor as predictable, as I had been taught; and that the bible was a whole lot less clear on the issue than I thought.
But whilst I intellectually acknowledged that being gay was not such a bad thing, I still didn’t feel that way about it. I still felt ashamed, too ashamed to tell the people who knew I was “struggling” that I was now going about “accepting”. Then my friend came back to visit Brisbane, and we caught up and ended up going to The Beat together.
The Beat, whilst not officially a gay club, is a known gay hang out. It is a safe place to be gay. It was the first time that I had ever been in such an environment. It wasn’t the sex infested stereotype I had expected. It was a place of acceptance. Gay people could dance together, straight people could dance together, and straight and gay people could dance with each other. I have visited there since and I can say that I consistently, quietly find acceptance there, in a way I have never found at church.
I went home that night and I prayed a very different prayer to what I had prayed before: I thanked God that He had made me gay. I forgave Him for all the bitterness I had held against Him, and all the pain I held Him responsible for. 🙂
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 GLBT 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.
I have no mentors for the type of life I am living. I am not out publicly; my conservative family does not know. I don’t know anyone anymore who is openly gay and openly Christian. I don’t even have any non-Christian Gay friends that live nearby. I haven’t found any gay-friendly churches in Brisbane that “fit”. There are no Christian self help books on how to have a healthy, gay relationship. There aren’t any no-sex-before-marriage type guidelines (after all, there is no marriage). It is uncharted waters. Being actively gay and being an active follower of Jesus are two incompatible lifestyles which I have no choice but to bring together.
So yeah. I don’t really know what I am doing. I’m in my early 20s in a pretty conservative town. But I feel so free for having accepted myself. I’m so glad I pushed through the darker times to get to where I am now, and I’m hopeful that it gets better yet. It will be interesting to see what happens when I finally come out to my family and in public (but there are a few things to do first – like move out).
Thanks guys. :crown: