Throughout my life I have always been faced with God. Unlike maybe someone like Bill Maher, I can’t become an atheist or even an agnostic; God is in my blood and I believe in Him. Even in those times in my life when I was living just for me, God was still there being a part of my life.
I give God the credit for so much for whom I am, or at least who I want to be and strive to be. I am also a liberal, or at least that’s where my political views stand. Being a liberal is also part of my relationship with God. Unlike many conservatives, my passion falls toward compassion – compassion for hungry children and those on the edge of life, trying to just survive.
My sexuality – my gayness as I’d like to call it, also has a lot to do with my relationship with God. I use to think that He hated me because of it. I went through a challenging time in my life when I spent years thinking that the one who created me and made me the way I am, hated me for being who I am.
I know that doesn’t seem to make sense but in reality, now that I look back on it, I realize that was exactly what I was doing; feeling guilty because I believed God hated me for what I could not help; being gay.
Looking back on those dark days reminds me of a quote from John Irving’s Novel, The Hotel New Hampshire; “keep passing the open window.” There were so many days in my life I felt that way – just keep passing those open windows, don’t give up, and don’t hate yourself.
I tried so many times to change myself. I tried to become heterosexual and somehow stop feeling attracted to men. Since it was a moral issue; I went to the source and I prayed and I prayed. I sanctified myself and committed my heart to the Lord but when I got up off my knees, no matter how long I stayed there, I was still a gay man with gay desires.
I came from a Pentecostal, Full Gospel Holiness church background. Pentecostals – at least the old-fashioned kind – were very fundamentalist in their beliefs. The very idea of someone being homosexual would be considered an abomination from God.
There’s no doubt that if someone was exposed as a homosexual, they would be shunned from the church. I know very well because I’ve been down that road and it’s a very sad and lonesome road when your church turns against you.
But, in spite of the church and after many years of allowing myself to accept guilt for being gay, I finally came back to a relationship with my creator. This time I threw out all the old guilt and told the Lord “Here I am Lord. If I’m not what you want me to be, then mold me and make me. But you made me this way; I didn’t choose my sexuality so it came from you.”
What I remember the most about those first days after discovering I was gay, was the feeling I was alone and there was no one I could turn to. I couldn’t turn to God because he thought of me as an abomination and I couldn’t turn to the only friends I knew; my church. That was the furthest from my mind; instead I hid it because that’s all I could do, I couldn’t even dream of confessing to those who I loved and I knew would look down on me.
But it’s not about me anymore, I’ve moved on with my life and I’m happy to say that I’m happy with myself. Still, there are so many teens, some gay and some heterosexual who face so much every day when they wake up in homes that are ruled by a perverted version of the Gospel, or for that matter – any religion that teaches them hate instead of love and fear instead of compassion.
Gay teens nowadays mostly have somewhere to turn but that may not be the case for all of them. There are still pockets of gay teens that hear nothing but negative and destructive words concerning gay people, people of other races or even people of another denomination.
A religious home can be a wonderful place for a young person to grow up in if that home is full of love and joy. But I can tell you that this is not the case for some religious homes. It is a difficult enough of a life for a heterosexual child to grow up in a home that is ruled by an extreme form of religion, let alone a gay child.
Religious people have a right to raise their kids how they see fit and that’s the way it should be. But, a teen that discovers they’re gay and a member of a religious family and a church that has always taught them that homosexuals go to Hell and are evil, can face a great gulf of fear and self-hate and a battle for their very souls ensues as they deal with the implications of who they are.
It is unfortunate, and not just for gay teens but for all teens who choose the road that ends. No really, it’s a tragedy when a young teen is faced with the sometimes unseen obstacles in their lives; that no one loves them and that God hates them.
So much good can come from a religious home. Over the years since I’ve left my past, I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of a few religious homes that were filled with loving and wonderful people.
But I am also a witness from the past, of seeing children taught fear along with the prejudice and hate that belongs to their parents. It is those children that I send my heart to, because I’ve been down that road too. I say to them “hold on, it won’t last forever.” And I encourage them to do as I did; just keep passing the open window.