“You can become everything you were taught to despise.” ~Zach Lind
As kids, certain moments and lessons form our outlook for a lifetime. One I remember happened at teepee camp when I was twelve. I went to camp with two of my good friends. The three of us were in the same teepee along with several other kids, including this kid Travis. Travis, how should I describe him? He was like the boyhood version of the queen bee from “Mean Girls”; Travis would boss the other kids, throw around demeaning comments, and even had a hench-friend. He made one of the youngest kids cry because he kept calling him a ‘poo smear’.
Because of all this my friends and I started using this made-up word “treep” as a code word for Travis. In line for lunch with all the other teepee members around we’d spout out, “Treep is so dumb”; “Treep is so annoying”; “I’m glad I’m not Treep”. Eventually some of the other kids learned who Treep was and started using it as well. Soon the whole teepee was dissing Travis right in his face, he just didn’t know it.
That’s right, Travis found out. My friend told me, apparently he even saw Travis crying as his parents picked him up. Even as a kid I was so heartbroken when heard this. I imagined finding out everyone around me, even my friends, had been secretly tearing me down, and laughing while doing it. I didn’t want to ever hurt another person like that again.
As I got older and began adolescence, I started having trouble with my… attractions. Girls could make me smile, but a good looking man would have me shaking in the knees. I didn’t really know what it meant. I certainly didn’t think I was gay though, it was quite clear to me then what gay people were and I wasn’t one of them. Focus on the Family, church, my parents, every single role model around me, all told me that the homosexuals were one of the most terrible groups of people. They were disgusting, on their way to hell, and wanted to take America with them. On top of trying to destroy families, gays were also estranged from God and could never enter the Kingdom of Heaven . No, I was definitely not gay.
I continually sought God and was devoted to Him and the church. On top of consistent prayer I started reading books about how to weaken or cure homosexuality . I went to conferences and had special prayer sessions with a counselor. I started trying to be more ‘masculine’ in hopes of changing my attractions; lifting weights, playing flag football, changing the way I talked.
But as time went on instead of me getting better at controlling my attractions, I was slowly losing the tight grip I had around them.
Then it started becoming clear, what I had been denying for so long; I was gay and there was no way of getting out of it. I was like Travis finding out who Treep was; me. Having struggled with depression since the start of my teen years, at 22 I was seriously considering suicide; if I was going to end up like one of those horrible people, shouldn’t I end my life now? Wasn’t I the worst of the worst?
It was in that moment that something inside me said, “Wouldn’t God rather have you alive and gay, than dead?”
That question started a long process that brought me to where I am today, and I’ll tell you the story if you want to hear (or read) more. In fact I will be writing up a few more posts about it.
But for this post I just want you to know–in case you didn’t already– I am gay, I think God is happy with that, and I am getting there.