I use to be a Christian until I discovered Jesus

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Joined in 2010
March 3, 2010, 15:58


My name is Azariah Southworth and I am 23-years-old.

Before I came out, I was the host of a Christian TV show. My show was broadcast into more than 128 million homes worldwide and we averaged over 200,000 viewers per week on just one network. I had a marketing deal with one of the largest Christian music websites. I had a clothing sponsor and would wear their attire in every episode. I received free vacations to the Bahamas. I had a nice little thing going for me, however, I also had a secret… I’m a gay man. No matter how well people may have liked me, I knew that wasn’t going to fly. So I kept it a secret. I was terrified if anyone found out.

While I was home visiting family over Christmas, my best friend discovered my secret. Not only was he my best friend, but he was the very reason why my show was on the air. I was mortified that he now knew. I remember crying hysterically on my bed as my friend and sister comforted me until I fell asleep. This friend asked if we could meet up when I arrived back in Nashville. When we met, he asked me to keep my sexual identity a secret. If I did this, I could keep my TV show. However, if I didn’t, it would be pulled from the air immediately. I agreed to keep it a secret, from that night on our friendship begin to dwindle.

In April 2008, I found myself in a place where I couldn’t live a double life any longer. I was ready to live my life authentically and honestly. So, on April 16, 2008 I drafted up a statement announcing I am gay and sent it to the media. I didn’t think anyone would carry the story.

Boy, was I wrong! That whole week was a whirlwind for me. My story was on the radio, TV, newspapers, internet and magazines all over the world. I received hundreds upon hundreds of messages from people. Most of them were supportive.

Since coming out, I’ve traveled across America sharing my story to whoever will listen. My story is one of overcoming years of fear, self-hatred and spiritual violence. For nearly 10 years I tried to become something I was never meant to be… a heterosexual man. In that process I objectified women, deceived loved ones and defrauded women I dated. It was all motivated by selfishness too. That selfishness was that I wanted to save myself from hell. It was about saving myself rather than knowing myself in Christ.

Today, because of my honesty about being gay, I have a great understanding of who I am and whose I am. When Jesus told us to come to him, he didn’t say, “Leave your burdens behind then come.” No, he said, “Come to me with your burdens and I will give you rest.” Jesus doesn’t promise us answers, but he does promise us rest. For me, being gay is not a burden, however, the secret was. So, that’s exactly what I’ve done, I laid down this burden my church encouraged me to carry. Because of that, I found rest, hope and joy in living my life authentically and honestly as a man who happens to be gay.

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
March 3, 2010, 18:20

hi Azariah… was great to have you share your story here with us. I know a number of the freedom 2 b[e]’ers will be thrilled.

I think you’ve done exceptionally well summarising your story…..I know there is so much more you could have said.

maybe you can put some links to some of the media stories here as well so that if people want to read more they can.

thanks my friend.

Its great isn’t it living honestly and authentically isn’t it……I could never go back to a life of secrecy and the sense of shame that I lived under for many years.

Joined in 2008
March 3, 2010, 20:40

AZARIAH! 😀 No way! I’m a huge fan of yours. Well… I mean, I’ve been following you as much as I can, ever since your story broke that is. You are a really big inspiration to me – if I may so, a hero even. I’m an 18-year-old guy, missionary kid, and I had always intended on writing you, but I just figured that you would receive hundreds of letters a day so then why would mine make any difference. The thing that really impacted me about your story is that my dream is to be involved in Christian media – well, not exactly “CHRISTIAN” media, if you know what I mean, but I want to use the media for Kingdom purposes. I plan to go to a private Christian college to study film so I can become a filmmaker and, if I get to live out this dream, I will be able to make films about the relationship between the gay community and the Church. So yeah, you’ve been a big inspiration to me. Yeah, you got kicked out and I imagine lots of people would want to kick me out of whatever too. But you didn’t go away. That is cool. 🙂 Keep up the good work, Azariah. Proud of you. 🙂

Joined in 2008
March 3, 2010, 20:55

Hey Azariah,

Wow, your story blew me away! I got so much inspiration. Yes, living an authentic and honest life is the only way to be.

Thanks again for sharing 🙂

Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
March 3, 2010, 21:32

Hi Azariah

It’s great to have you with us. Thank you for your honesty.

You said:

“It was about saving myself rather than knowing myself in Christ”.

I like how you examined and realised your motives within your faith. I also admire how you’re sharing your story across America. I’m sure your example is bringing hope to many.


Ann Maree

Joined in 2007
March 4, 2010, 00:55

Welcome to F2B Azariah,

Your story is powerful and inspiring. Thanks for sharing it here with us.

Joined in 2009
March 9, 2010, 03:30

Hi Azariah

I am glad you had the courage to be who you really are its so much better isnt it?

I am curious and fascinated about the the title of your post – I was just wondering what you meant by the title of your post – do you no longer consider yourself a Christian and if so why?

Like others have said on this site, labels are for jars. But sometimes they are a convenient shorthand and thats the context that I am using the word Christian in. Not as a tool of pressure or anything untoward.

I am curious about your journey and the processes you have been thru.

Joined in 2008
March 11, 2010, 11:04

Hi Azariah,

I remember losing everything at the same age, I was a worship leader and leader of campus christian group at university. In some ways it was a great relief (don’t have to hide anymore) and in others extremely challenging (suddenly those who I counted on as friends suddenly weren’t there anymore).

The reality of unconditional love is so much more than what is branded as christian.


Ann Maree
Joined in 2008
March 11, 2010, 13:00

Hi Richard

Welcome to f2b! Is this your first time here? If you would like to, it would be great to hear more of your story in the Telling our Stories section.


Ann Maree

Anthony Venn-Brown
Joined in 2005
March 17, 2010, 18:05

hey richard ….nice of you to pop in

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