The date was 15th September 2000, the day my world fell apart. My brother took me out for lunch that spring day. After some amount of talking, he asked me “Are you in to girls?”. I froze, like a dear about to be hit by a car, dazed by the headlights. I was tired of living a lie, I was tired of not being honest with my brother, I was tired of putting on a charade. I wanted the truth to be known. After a short pause, I told my brother I was gay. He was visibly shaken, but not too surprised. He told me that he and my parents already had discussions about it, and were somewhat prepared. I asked him what Mum’s reaction was. His words were “We’ll get through this”. I didn’t feel encouraged at all by his response, for I knew she would be the one who would cause me the most pain, even before the fireworks began. It was too late to undo things, my brother knew the truth and he had a moral obligation to tell my parents. He insisted that we go immediately to our parents place to talk it over with Mum and Dad. So we drove over.
Upon arrival, mum and dad were quite cold towards me. It appears that my brother had intended to confront me about the issue, to bring to blows the consequences. I sat down, and my brother lead the conversation with “John has something to say”. My parents sat down, and I proceeded to tell them that I was gay. Initially I felt a level of euphoria, that I had finally got it off my chest, that I could finally exhale. The euphoria was very short lived.
My mum looked at me with a level of disgust and impurity that I had never seen prior to that point in time, or afterwards. Her and I were really close, very affectionate to each other all our lives. She looked at me with a look as though I had committed the worst possible sin imaginable. She cried out “WHAT!!!”. From that point onwards it was a barrage of insults in every language imaginable. She didn’t hold back. There were swear words in Spanish that I had never heard of prior to that day. Clearly she had premeditated her response. She forced me to kneel down in front of the lounge and repent of my sins. She was furious beyond measure. She forced me to pray in tounges, and recant my homosexuality. My brother and dad just watched on, allowing the carnage to continue. They dared not get in the way of the carnage. I was humiliated beyond measure, broken by the very people who were meant to love me the most, unconditionally. It appeared that their love was conditional.
Some time passed, and she continued to hurl insults to me. She started to cry and continue screaming at me. I couldn’t leave, I had to withstand the emotional and verbal abuse. My father broke down and started crying uncontrollably. I had never in my life seen my father cry until that day. It broke my heart in to a million pieces. The last straw that I could bear came at the end. She said “If I had known you were going to become a homosexual, I would never have had you!”. I replied, crying my eyes out “You would prefer me dead, than have a homosexual son”. She replied “Yes”. That was when I grabbed my phone, wallet and keys, and ran out of the home. I had lost the love of my family. The depth of the abyss that I reached is incomprehensible. I ran to the beach, which was only 10 minutes away, crying my eyes out in emotion and despair. I arrived on the beach. It was cold and windy now, late afternoon. I stood there sobbing, and I cried out to God. I was intent on killing myself that day, and not see the following morning. What’s the point of living life if your own family prefer you dead than alive? I couldn’t change my homosexuality, and there was no point living the rest of my days without the love of my family. In my hour of greatest despair, God met me. He made me a promise that to this very day I hold close to my heart. It was the second time in my life where God spoke clearly to me. “Do my will, and I will bless you immensely for the rest of your days; both in Heaven, and on Earth”. It was this promise that kept me alive that day. God reminded me that it wasn’t the love of my family that was important, but that it was His love that mattered in life. That I do not live for my family, but that I live for my God. With His promise close to my heart, I decided against killing myself, and slowly walked back to my parents home to submit and continue life, regardless of whatever shit my family throws at me.
I praise God, because by the time I had come home, I believe my mum knew what could have happened and that God had intervened. She was clearly shaken, and she was a bit easier on me second time round. To make matters worse, Ben had managed to piss my brother off royally, and managed to make one of my advocates in to one of my oppressors. I called Ben to tell him what had happened, and he decided to take it upon himself to tell my brother what he felt. A bad move. That night, I sat with Ben in the apartment after having watched the opening ceremony at Ralph’s new home and I said to him: “Babe, I’ve lost the love of my family, please don’t tell me I’ve lost yours too”. In the end, my brother made threats to Ben, and he bolted and swiftly moved out. I was forced to hand back the apartment (continuing to pay the rent until a new tenant could be found for the landlord). I moved back in with my parents.
The following three months were horrific. There wasn’t a day that went by where my mum wouldn’t yell abuse at me in the office or at home. She was so loud, that the offices across the road could have heard it. There was no doubt that the whole building knew I was gay, and that my mum was pissed. No hugs, no affection, no kisses on the cheek, nothing. My mother and I had been close all our lives, and now absolutely nothing other than the looks of disgust that she had mastered so well to make me feel like an untouchable, unworthy of her love, the love of my family, or the love of my God. After a while I became immune to the insults. I wasn’t going to change her, so I stopped fighting with her. If she told me to look up at her when she was abusing me, I would honour her and pay attention. But I wouldn’t reply as I knew whatever came out of my mouth would never satisfy her need to heal her brokenness. Living with my parents made life all the more harder. Not only would I be bombarded with abuse at work, but I would also have to cop another barrage of abuse when I got home.
After a long period of time, the abuse subsided. From time to time it would flare up, but for the most part, the abuse had finished. Mum requested that I go see Christian counselors about my homosexuality. They swiftly put the blame on my father, and put me in to an ex-gay program (more specifically Sy Rodgers). Sy, if you read this, it is a daily struggle for me to continue forgiving you for the damage you’ve done to homosexual men and women across the globe.
In March 2001, there was sufficient cash flows in the business for my brother to come home and part take in the family business. We moved in together, and my life was beginning to look brighter. Over time my relationship with my mother strengthened, and we started loving each other the way we did prior to me coming out to them.
I’ll never forget a sermon my head pastor preached about Jesus accepting you as you are. At the end of the sermon, he specifically mentioned homosexuals, that they are accepted in Jesus as they are, and that the church should be filled with homosexuals, for they needed Jesus just as much as anyone else. I personally told my head pastor about my homosexuality, and they allowed Luke and I the privilege of starting a small cell group specifically catered for homosexuals. In total, there were four of us. Even though the cell group was disbanded when Luke returned home to Canada, I will never forget the love that my church extended to me.
All my life I had been grappling with my homosexuality and my faith. Almost as a sign of rebellion, I made a point of not going through the waters of baptism. That all ended on 1st July 2008 when after almost 20 years of walking with Jesus, I decided to put the struggle behind me, and be baptised. It was an amazing experience, and I’m grateful that I did it at a time when I truly meant it in my heart.
In 2008, I started working in Sydney as a contractor. One particular Sunday night, my head pastor spoke about un-forgiveness. Whilst I was driving to work, the Holy Spirit challenged me about this. I started reviewing who it was that I had un-forgiveness towards. It didn’t take long for me to realise it was my mother. Not long prior to that point in time, I had purchased a “Planetshakers” CD, and it contained a remake of a very old song I used to sing when I started going to Lighthouse. The song was “Come Holy Spirit, fall a fresh on me”. As the song played, I kept saying to myself “I’ve forgiven mum for the pain she put me through”. It was at that point that the Holy Spirit told me to say “Mum, I forgive you”. I couldn’t do it. Try as much as I try, I just couldn’t do it. I kept pressing in, and pressing in, until I managed to mouth the words out, and started balling my eyes out. I was crying intensely, profusely, at 80km/h down a Sydney arterial road. How I didn’t manage to crash the car, I’ll never know. I kept on crying, but I could finally say the words: “I forgive you mum”.
In 2009 I connected with Freedom2B. It never ceases to amazes me how impacting each and every person is within Freedom2B, and how much love I have for all of them. Most people have a “sob story” but to see them united, as one, gives me immense hope. United we stand, divided we fall.
It is my hope that my story would help many out there who are on a similar journey. And if you are on that journey, consider joining Freedom2B, to find solace and understanding from those who have also had to “do it tough” over the years.
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t thank God for what he has done in my life. He continues to shower me with blessings, above and beyond all measure. He is my God, and I love him with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my mind, and with my life. It is my prayer that you may get to know Him in this way too.