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How I have come to accept myself (and the journey just begins)

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Mr Summit
Chapter Leader
Joined in 2010
October 5, 2010, 11:51 pm

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:


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Ann Maree
 
Joined in 2008
October 6, 2010, 8:04 am

Hey Mr Summit


So glad you’re with us at f2b!!


You’re amazing – love your story! 🙂 🙂 🙂


Feel free to look at some of our resource articles on homosexuality for a more balanced biblical view. I also took comfort in hearing the ABC radio interview with the 3 of the 100 revs (pastors who accept LGBT). It’s titled ‘Homosexuality and Religion’ and in our discussion section on the 4th page. And then there’s the DVD of ‘For the Bible Tells Me So’ which I particularly like.


Thanks for sharing. And I hope you find all the supports you need here and more. It definitely does get better! 🙂


Blessings,


Ann Maree


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Anthony Venn-Brown
 
Joined in 2005
October 6, 2010, 11:49 am

yes Mr Summit………it is wonderful that you came here and shared your story with us.


Like so many of the stories here it ticks so many of the boxes of what I’ve been trying to create greater awareness about.


http://lgbttraining.blogspot.com/p/lgbt-people-of-faith.html


BTW…….how did you find us.


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CindyGal
 
Joined in 2010
October 6, 2010, 1:07 pm

Hi Mr Summit,


I loved your story, and I loved your writing style as well. I hope you find what you are looking for. Can I suggest, MCC Brisbane? Metropolitan Community Church in Brisbane is amazing. I have been going there since 2007, and have found them one of the most accepting Christian communities. Leigh Neighbour, the pastor is a beautiful caring man who has been in a relationship for 30 years I believe (I could have that wrong). If you’re on FB check out Leigh there, he’s very cool


That’s just my 2 cents worth.


Cindy


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IanJ
 
Joined in 2009
October 6, 2010, 1:34 pm

Hi Summit


Sounds like you’ve worked a lot of stuff out. Congratulations!!! It took me almost 30 years more than you to get to the same position. I know what it was like in high school (thanks for the description!!) and in Student Life.


The suggestion about MCC in Brisbane sounds like a good one- but it may not fit your preferred ‘style’ (might be time for some compromise?). You’ll find lots of support and suggestions here.


I travel to Brisbane sometimes, and I’d be happy to meet with you.


Ian


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iplantolive
 
Joined in 2008
October 6, 2010, 9:27 pm

Hi Mr Summit,


A formal welcome from moi to our forum. freedom2b[e] has helped me immensely over the past 2 years understand the various dynamics of sexual orientation. In terms of a “mentor” I think we here at freedom2b[e] can all be mentors to each other! Each of us can bring different insights into this journey we call life.


We also have a couple of pastors who post regularly on the forum who bring a great deal of pastoral experience in christian matters and walking in Christ’s way.


There is also a continuum model that we use to help gay people define where they might be on their journey which I’ve posted below. Thanks again for sharing your story. I know it will have a positive impact on those who have a similar experience.


http://gayambassador2.blogspot.com/


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Mr Summit
Chapter Leader
Joined in 2010
October 6, 2010, 9:49 pm

So many replies, thanks guys.


@Ann: Yeah, this does seem like a great forum. Thanks for the resources.


@avennbrown: I found you through Google, via the resources section.


@CindyGal & IanJ: I’ll see if I can check MCC out sometime. Yeah, I understand that I’m probably going to have to make a lot of compromises.


@Pierre, Interesting continuum. I’d say my friends that know are around the discomfort / tolerant part of that continuum.


Thanks so much everyone.


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iplantolive
 
Joined in 2008
October 6, 2010, 10:12 pm

@Pierre, Interesting continuum. I’d say my friends that know are around the discomfort / tolerant part of that continuum.


I think the key message is that the attitudinal shift tends to occur more frequently if your friends actually know a gay person ie you.


The stereotypes begin to break down … and they discover you are an individual … just like them … with dreams, goals, ambitions etc to fulful!!!


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Anthony Venn-Brown
 
Joined in 2005
October 7, 2010, 12:57 pm

So many replies, thanks guys.


@Ann: Yeah, this does seem like a great forum. Thanks for the resources.


@avennbrown: I found you through Google, via the resources section.


@CindyGal & IanJ: I’ll see if I can check MCC out sometime. Yeah, I understand that I’m probably going to have to make a lot of compromises.


@Pierre, Interesting continuum. I’d say my friends that know are around the discomfort / tolerant part of that continuum.


Thanks so much everyone.


thank god for google……..you are no longer alone in this journey. Do you remember what your key words were????


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Ann Maree
 
Joined in 2008
October 7, 2010, 6:22 pm

I think the key message is that the attitudinal shift tends to occur more frequently if your friends actually know a gay person ie you.


The stereotypes begin to break down … and they discover you are an individual … just like them … with dreams, goals, ambitions etc to fulful!!!


Well said Pierre! 🙂


Blessings,


Ann Maree


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Myfanwe
 
Joined in 2007
October 8, 2010, 11:17 am

Mr Summit,


Your story is nothing short of inspiring! Thanks so much for sharing it with us here. I am always excited to hear of yet another person who has decided to live life as you have, as an openly gay, God-fearing Christian. :bigsmile:


The more of us who choose this way, the more it will help to change attitudes, I believe.


When I first started to think that way (and it was only recently, really) I thought that it was foolish to even attempt it, but then I recalled where the Bible says that God uses the foolish things to confound the wise.


There are so many ‘wise’ people who believe they know God’s word and His will regarding homosexuals, who really have it all wrong, and if I am going to be a fool, then I pray that my doing so will confound that kind of wisdom.


I read a great blog by a straight Christian man, John Shore who talked in a recent post about an elderly Christian friend of his who confessed that he has never known a homosexual person, but perhaps, if he had known even one as well as John has known many, that perhaps his beliefs would have been confounded earlier.


If you, or anyone else would like to read more of John’s writings, he can be found at http://johnshore.com


Thanks again for sharing with us!


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Mr Summit
Chapter Leader
Joined in 2010
October 8, 2010, 8:56 pm

@avennbrown: I think I was searching for gay affirming churches in Brisbane, actually. Btw, you can get analytics tools that will help tell you think kind of information.


@Ann Maree: Thanks for the link. Looks interesting. And yeah, it does seem foolish (and daunting!).


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Anthony Venn-Brown
 
Joined in 2005
October 9, 2010, 1:26 pm

yep…..we use google analytics……..most people find us these days by googling our name…..which is really good. Means we are becoming well known. Its interesting to find though about how others connect with us.


of course our biggest challenge is how do we let those who need us the most (LGBT people closeted in churches) know about our existence.


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HillsBen
Youth Coordinator
Joined in 2008
October 10, 2010, 7:15 pm

Hi Mr Summit,


Welcome to freedom 2 b[e]!! It’s so great to have you here with us and I hope that this site becomes as much of a support for you as it has been for me. I’m 22 and another young one on here.


You have a powerful story and I can relate to so much of it! I remember trying to become more masculine with the ex-gay stuff. I was told to start going to the gym, playing sport and asking girls out. I don’t regret it either…guess it was an experience. lol :p


It’s so hard to hear about gay Christians that the church rejects. It is very sad indeed as Jesus would welcome LGBT Christians with open arms. I hope you can find your new church home and I pray that you continue to grow from strength to strength in Jesus.


I wouldn’t worry too much now if you feel you don’t have all the answers because it’s a journey and you and God are doing life together. Trust in him and he will guide your way. 🙂


Feel free to add me on facebook (Benjamin Gresham) or twitter and keep in touch.


Praying for you mate,

Ben


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Mr Summit
Chapter Leader
Joined in 2010
October 10, 2010, 11:25 pm

@avennbrown, I tried navigating to freedom2be.com earlier today and got nowhere. The URL does kind of throw me a bit.


@HillsBen, Thanks for your prayers. Yeah, it is an adventure. I certainty don’t feel like less of a man than straight guys, at least not any more, now that I realize how flawed my understanding of sexuality was.


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Ann Maree
 
Joined in 2008
October 11, 2010, 9:03 am

Hey Mr Summit


It’s http://www.freedom2b.org without the ‘e’ on the ‘be’ and without the ‘.com’.


Cheers,


Ann Maree


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Mr Summit
Chapter Leader
Joined in 2010
October 20, 2010, 11:28 pm

An update:


Later this week I am going over to a friend’s place who I have been talking to about moving in (there is some space opening up towards the end of the year). I used to work with him full time, and the place is really, insanely close to where I currently work so it could pan out pretty well. I feel like leaving home is a prerequisite for me coming out, and even if I wasn’t coming out it feels like time anyway (I am 23 with a pretty successful career).


As part of this I will let my friend know that I am gay. I wouldn’t want to move in with a conservative, Christian, straight guy without him knowing this (it’s just the right thing to do). I am quietly confident he will be ok with this.


Moving out will be a step towards me coming out, hopefully sometime early next year. I am looking forward to it and don’t feel anxious at all (maybe I should). It’s hard to keep being gay a secret, as though I am ashamed of it when I am not. It seems like I am biting my tongue all the time to stop myself from just blurting it out. But everything has a time.


The other day I posted a pro-gay comment on one of Ben’s status updates and then realized that my comments on random people’s statuses get posted on my friend’s feeds, so I wen’t “Oh %$@%” and quickly had to delete it. It makes me wonder if I will make it to next year!


Besides moving out the other things to do before now and coming out:


1) Write something up explaining my change in attitude about homosexuality. In the OP I explained how I have told a few friends over the years. At the time I told them I hated being gay so they’ve been naturally surprised by how I have changed my mind. I owe them an explanation of my reasoning. They supported me when I was struggling with same sex attraction, I would also like them to support me as an out and proud gay Christian.


2) Make sure I have a rock solid faith, and good support in case everything goes wrong. This is why I am searching for gay Christians in Brisbane. And also why number 1 is there, to a degree.


3) Figure out how I tell my parents. I’m tossing up between telling them in person or telling them through a letter. Maybe I give them a letter and let them read it whilst I am there? They are the most homophobic people I know, so this may be interesting.


4) After I tell my parents I will tell the rest of my close friends in person (basically, the people that matter). These are the people who I would rather have hear that I am gay from me rather than from the grape vine.


5) Let loose. A Facebook status update maybe with a link to a blog post explaining my story?? My acquaintances and casual friends can find out that way.


There are a few people who I wont volunteer the information to. There’s one organisation that I join on a Friday night visiting homeless and mentally disabled people and I fear I wouldn’t be able to go out with them if they knew I was gay. What we do is just too important to let something like this get in the way (a sacrifice, I guess). Also, I wouldn’t announce it at work as it shouldn’t make a difference there – I’ll probably just casually drop an unexpected pronoun in conversation or something. Sounds like fun to give someone that awkward moment.


So that is where I think I am heading over the next few months. It shall be interesting.


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Myfanwe
 
Joined in 2007
October 21, 2010, 12:12 am

Hi Mr Summit


It looks like you have got a good strategy planned for your progress towards being out and open about who you are. I pray that it will all go as smoothly as possible for you and that you can find a place where you’re comfortable in your own skin. It’s very freeing.


Please keep us in the loop with how it all goes for you.


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Ann Maree
 
Joined in 2008
October 21, 2010, 12:31 am

Hey Mr Summit


Thanks for the update. Interesting that you’re planning on telling your “homophobic” parents, as you describe them, before your close friends. I mean, I can understand that order of disclosure if you’re worried about someone telling your parents and prefer to get in first. However, might you need some support from friends who are likely to be more affirming before tackling your parents?


From experience, it’s good to have supports in place for yourself. I like avb’s idea of telling low risk people first, or those less likely to reject you which allows confidence and supports to build. That can help when having to later disclose to higher risk people. Alternatively you might decide not to come out to them at all.


I agree that moving out of home allows a safe space to be if things don’t work out. It also provides more space and time apart for both you and your parents to process your news without being crowded or rushed. A well written coming out letter can work along similar lines, allowing both sides to be better prepared with their responses and able to process and express themselves more accurately.


I look forward to hearing more as your plan unfolds.


Blessings,


Ann Maree


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Chris
Administrator
Joined in 2009
October 21, 2010, 8:55 am


Thanks for the update. Interesting that you’re planning on telling your “homophobic” parents, as you describe them, before your close friends. I mean, I can understand that order of disclosure if you’re worried about someone telling your parents and prefer to get in first. However, might you need some support from friends who are likely to be more affirming before tacking your parents?


I’m thinking the same thing. I came out to people in a very carefully considered order, starting with those with the lowest risk to the ones with highest risk. The “risk” itself being a weighing of two things:



  1. likeliness that they would be OK with it

  2. the potential impact on my life if they’re not.


It meant I would have people to fall back on if things didn’t go well further down the track.


My family was last on the list, not so much because I thought they’d not take it well (I wasn’t too sure, turns out they were fine) but because living at home, it would potentially have the biggest impact on my life.


Given that your parents may have the worst reaction of anyone you know, I’d be carefully considering all that.


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