As a child I believed intensely that I was a worthless human being and of no use to anyone. I was completely deaf in one ear (a teacher first noticed when I was four), but I had no support at school and my education suffered terribly. I wore a hearing aid but it didn’t help. I was shy, unconfident and graduated with six poorly-graded CSEs. As well as being isolated because of my deafness, I knew from an early age that I was gay. I kept it quiet and tried to be heterosexual by dating girls, but it all felt so unnatural to me. I enjoyed being alone with my thoughts and my Christian faith became strong.
At 14, I heard a Christian minister on the radio and I turned to Jesus Christ there and then. I became very actively involved with a conservative, evangelical Pentecostal wing of the church and eventually went to Bible college. I fell deeply in love with a nice American guy during my three years there and started having a relationship, without sex. We became very close but the faculty heard rumours about us and separated us without warning. He was taken from his room and sent to live with a family. I too was offered a place with a family in the hope to keep what had happened between us from the student population and to challenge what they considered to be totally in breach of scripture. Support and help from the real professionals for us both was never considered.
As a result I was totally devastated by the whole experience. The faculty arranged for an unqualified counsellor to come up from Kings College, London to counsel us separately. During counselling (nothing of the sort) sessions with me he kept reinforcing that the relationship with my friend was totally against what scripture taught, ‘homosexuality was sinful and worthy of punishment’. He advised that we didn’t see or contact each other again, in fact, we have never contacted each other since. That was almost 20 years ago.
For approx. 6 weeks I lived with a family that were totally cold towards me, detached from ever having any empathy with me or the situation I found myself in. Somehow I don’t think they were comfortable having a ‘confused’ homosexual christian living in their house. They weren’t at all very friendly. When I look back I don’t know how I managed to get through those dark times, even though at the time I sought God constantly, nothing happened, no vision, no sense that God was going to do something great, NOTHINGNESS, is all I experienced. Where was the Lord when I needed him? Why didn’t he intervene in my hour of need? Had he abandoned me for being gay? What had I done wrong to deserve such punishment? So many questions were buzzing around in my head, I was so confused, dazed and void of feelings.
Eventually after graduating with my Diploma in Theology and Cambridge Certificate in Religious Studies from Mattersey Hall, Doncaster, I returned to my parents home in Winsford. After being home several days, I broke down in front of my sister and cried like a baby. Her response was to get me to the medical centre to see a GP without delay. She took me there in her car and I saw a GP. I told her everything that had happened. She was furious to say the least and prescribed anti-depressants immediately. She said I was suffering from clinical depression. She was so angry because no-one at the college had considered referring me for medical and professional help. The unqualified counsellor they employed (who once told me Matteresy Hall were paying him really well), should not have counselled me at all, he was not qualified to do so and was in fact in breach of UK law in relation to his counselling techniques. The college could have been sued for neglect and mistreatment, but this was not the way forward.
I was in emotional turmoil and I knew I had to tell someone I was gay and about me and my friend. I was so afraid of what people would say and do if I had told them. I eventually plucked up the courage to tell my parents. We were sat around the dining table when I confessed to them and my dad’s reaction was, “Is that it, put the kettle on Do (short for Doreen), let’s have a brew”. I was so relieved; it was as if it didn’t matter to my dad. I could see mum was in shock, but eventually managed to deal with it.
Post Mattersey Hall:
From then on life got better – but with a struggle.
Dealing with being hard of hearing and gay was very difficult. A Pentecostal Church offered me an assistant pastorate in
Seattle, USA, but I knew it would not work with being gay. I decided to resign from the Church and any future ministerial position and change career. I worked voluntarily at first in a hostel for male ex-offenders and for the next 12 years I worked with a whole range of groups in supported housing, such as adults with mental health issues, homeless people, people with drug and alcohol issues, learning disabilities and older people.
In 2000 I changed career again and trained as a social worker in Wrexham. I was involved in pioneering successful community and advisory groups, for deaf and hard of hearing council employees where I worked from graduating as a social worker, and developing serices and eventually developing the LGBT Foundation. I have since won awards for my work in the community and was invited in 2006 to a reception hosted by the Queen and members of the royal family for special achievers across the UK, attended by the Queen, Prince Philip and Prince Andrew. I spoke to all of them, including the Queen. I was ecstatic to say the least.
Since then I have been rewarded by the First Minister of Wales, UK, for my work with LGBT communities in Wales, promoting tolerance and equality and also have just been invited to attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace, which takes place in July 2011. This is for my work as Chair of the British Association of Social Workers in Wales, UK.
The story continues…. To Christ be the Glory for ever and ever Amen.
Find out more about Keith Drury’s community and social activities for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people at:
Email: [email protected]