The conservative Christian south. As a kid I visited a Baptist chapel and school, and lived in a Baptist family. “God demolished Sodom because these were Sodomites,” a youth pastor once told me, “and He’ll destroy all sodomites.” Even at a young age, this is of that word wasn’t lost on me personally.
I had been scared. I sensed threatened. I felt abandoned. I prayed every night for God to make me right. I cried myself to rest at night wondering why God had created me just to hate me, merely to be hated by everyone I knew if they discovered my secret.
If they discovered I was gay.
God never made me straight, so I still left the church. I turned down the God that I thought turned down me. I rejected Christians and avoided them no matter what. I lower myself off from classmates and alienated myself from the people I understood. I declined them before they could reject me. I was depressed, scared, by itself.
Years later once i went to college, I came across other young gay men like myself. I made friends, both homosexual and straight, and slowly started informing people my secret. I used to be accepted. Finally. But I still wasn’t happy. “He will destroy all sodomites.” I didn’t believe those words any more, but I still couldn’t shake them.
I could tell my peers, but I still couldn’t tell my parents.
By enough time I had been 23, I had dated. I had developed dropped in love and acquired my heart broken. I had started to live my entire life as an out homosexual man, finally agreeing to myself, but I still couldn’t show my parents, my old high school friends, or the folks from my past.
On a whim I did so an internet search for “LGBT Friendly” churches in my own town. There is just one. The reverend experienced made a blog post about a transgender young struggling for approval in a different chapel. She reminded her followers that LGBT individuals are pleasant at her cathedral. I was excited, but I didn’t placed on my Sunday best that week, or the next. I didn’t believe it was true. The thought of a gay-friendly church was so international if you ask me I couldn’t accept it.
Weeks passed before I finally got the nerve to go. Without even knowing who I was, the reverend read a poem during the service. “Come to the altar,” she read, “if you’re homosexual, straight, transgender. The addict or the saint. Come to the altar.” I couldn’t pay attention to the complete poem. My eye welled with tears and I ran to the bathroom.
I had never experienced such acceptance.
I went back several times after waiting for the reverend to slide up. Waiting to find out if she was just blowing smoke. Waiting for something to show that her acceptance was all a ruse. She never do. When I told her I am homosexual she told me God made me that method for a reason. Not to hate me, but to love me.
With the backing of a church I finally worked up the nerve to tell my parents. My mother cried, my father seemed to have previously thought it out himself. “Homosexuality is a sin, but…” my mom started before I ended her. “It’s not really a sin,” I said. “It’s love. God is love.”
I still hear that phrase a lot, “Homosexuality is a sin, but…” I hate hearing it, but I understand how to defend it now. It’s not a sin. It’s who I am, who I was made to be. God didn’t create me merely to be hated. He created me to be strong and also to be happy.
After many years of hating myself, hating my family, hating God, I’m finally happy. I’ve finally found love and joy.
Coming out for me personally was less an announcement and more of a process. I had to learn that beliefs and orientation aren’t individual. That even while some Christians may reject me, God doesn’t. God is love.