This is a story of the many confusing and disheartening tribulations surrounding my experiences with my sexuality and my family's views of religion. I have only spoke on this topic with my immediate family and friends, however I have come to realize that many individuals within my demographic struggle with the same issues that I had. Hopefully my journey into this realm can help inspire and encourage people like me to realize that they are good enough for this world, and take action to blossom into the beautiful souls they were destined to become.
From as far back as I can remember, I don't think I could ever see myself courting and/or dating anyone in general. The preconceived social norm of "boys will be boys" and being a so-called "lady magnet" never stuck in my mind and, personally, I saw other girls solely as acquaintances and not as potential love interests I could pair up and grow with.
I also hated the idea of being best friends with other boys, we never really got along and I absolutely despised playing sports, something that was almost "required" to be the typical socially acceptable straight guy.
Growing up, I never had any interest in dating. I truly knew for a fact that I was not attracted to girls, but being gay was something that was unacceptable and something that seemed nonexistent in my grade-school mind because of my affiliation with religion at the time.
My fear of being abnormal and being seen as an outcast was my first experience with anxiety and minor depressive episodes. I was very influenced by mainstream culture and media. Society's view of "lesser"' individuals was everywhere in movies and TV shows that made me not want to experience something like that. Luckily, I was blessed with my graceful and witty humor, so I was not left to dry in the corner of the school cafeteria, and I had a decent amount of friends that I thought were great, and I was happy.
Nevertheless, I was still extremely anxious about something much more personal and groundbreaking; that's when I decided to get baptized, something that I thought would "fix" whatever was wrong with me and mold my brain into thinking more normally, and maybe, just maybe, I would become one of the cool guys.
The baptism came, and it was a very exciting and emotional time for my family. I remember that day so clearly. My mother reading scripture while her cracking voice and tender arms held me so gently in the pool of warm water, which was very comforting. My whole family attended the service with great support, which is something I still enjoy seeing to this day. After the service, all of my family was ecstatic for my new chapter and journey to follow Christ in a new light. Bountiful amounts of food and laughter filled my grandparent's house. Seeing all of my family so joyful and supportive made me feel amazing, and it is something I always am searching for, even though it was always right there.
My normal routine of school continued, and nothing changed. My thoughts still filled my adolescent brain, and my relationships with my peers did not change one bit. I felt betrayed by whatever was watching over me. I thought I was going to be cleansed of my old self and be "reborn" into the new and improved version of myself that I had so desperately wanted. Those recurring messages and signals in my head continued up through high school, where my darkest self emerged.
My first year of high school was what I call "my great awakening," and that was when I realized that I didn't like girls in that way, but no one was ever to know. I had been baptized, a promise to God to follow him in a new light. What kind of hypocrite would I become if anyone ever found out about my dark and sinful mind? That is when I met my saving grace, and for the sake of their privacy, we are going to refer her as EP. EP was my everything; we did what just about any pair of girl best friends did. Hours of gossip—she talked about boys and I just listened because I didn't want her to have any notion to believe that I liked boys, but she knew deep down that I did, which now gives me great comfort and made it so much easier to tell her my struggles.
She was the first person I told, and it only showed me how much she cares about me. I was deathly afraid of her disowning me or forgetting who I was. I then realized that it was not a big deal within my demographic, and soon enough all of my friends knew, and they were happy for me and gave me the support I was so desperately searching for.
I lived a double life for far too long. I knew in my mind that it was time to tell my family, but my heart was not ready for what I thought was going to happen. I truly believed that my family's deep ties with religion were going to cause a divide within the household, and, worst case scenario, I thought I was going to be kicked out. But, one Sunday morning service I attended with my family was focused entirely on sexuality. It timed way too perfectly with my struggles in life to be just a coincidence. This service taught me that Christians are called to love everyone, no matter who they are. Yes, homosexuality is a sin according to the bible, but it is not a reason to shame or hate on someone who is.
I took these words into consideration. I thought that if my parents were true followers. They wouldn't necessarily accept me, but at least support me in everything I did and who I was as an individual. I had drawn terrifying ideas in my mind that my parents were religious monsters that would disown me, which is exactly what I didn't want to happen. I couldn't work up the courage to tell them face-to-face, which is something I regret. I spent countless nights crying myself to sleep thinking about the unknown and what would happen if I told them. So I decided to write them a letter; it seemed unfair to them to be left in the dark about their eldest son's struggles.
The letter that I wrote to my parents was extremely self-deprecating. My mother made sure to tell me that I was not "a disappointment" and that I was loved. Her only worry was that I'd get hurt in this dark and cruel world, just like any loving mother would. However, my parents had a lot of questions regarding my current position in life, and I was not up to giving them any answers. To this day, I believe they still have questions, but then I believed that they were out to get me. I didn't want to talk to them. I didn't want them to get to know the new me, which makes me feel extremely angry that I was not as understanding as I am now. Of course, I think I would still get uncomfortable if they were to talk with me about it, but it makes me happy that they know, and that I don't have to hide my true self anymore.
I completely skipped over the fact that my parents actually really loved me and wanted only the best for me. I didn't feel that support that I craved so savagely. Now I know that their religion doesn't get in the way of them loving me, and they believe in spreading love to anyone and everyone because it's what God called them to do.
Much love to my parents, for they put up with a stubborn and close-minded individual for so long. I love you guys so much and thank you for everything.