Like others, I learned the journey to peace began with accepting myself.
I grew up in a Christian home. My father was a Baptist minister. My parents raised all of their kids according to what they believed God desired and the instruction of the Bible.
Yet, at age four, I realized I was different.
Ten years later, I found out that feeling of being different, that crush on Stephen in third grade and the nighttime fantasies I hoped no one would ever know about, were part of my life because I was “struggling with homosexuality.” Like the vast majority of gay people I know, I had not been sexually molested by anyone, there was no older man seducing me and I wasn’t trying to bond with a male to make up for some parental loss.
At fifteen, I was depressed and suicidal because I thought I was going to go to Hell if I didn’t overcome my sin. I would beg God to take my life while I slept so that I wouldn’t get another day closer to disappointing him.
A year later, I graduated from my ACE Christian high school (Sweet Valley Christian Academy), I made my way to (Jerry Falwell’s) Liberty University. I was mostly there to find a way to rid myself of my homosexuality.
Religious leaders spoke of God changing people’s behavior from homosexual to heterosexual.
Shortly after arriving on campus I realized i was at risk of getting expelled if I exposed my secret. I was given quite a bit of encouragement and counseling from a contact at a now defunct organization in Texas run by Christian musicians.
I was told that God did not hate me because I had this struggle. I was told that I needed to live my life as godly as possible. I needed to turn from my sin in every area of my life including my struggle with homosexuality. I was not promised that I would be cured of my homosexuality but that I would have to fight it everyday as I did with all other sin.
I was also promised that there would be times I would fall off the wagon. But I was counseled that I would need to pull myself together and get back on the wagon as quickly as I could and continue on with my journey.
I was also most promised that there would be times I would fall off the wagon. But I was counseled that I would need to pull myself together and get back on the wagon as quickly as I could and continue on with my journey.
As a result of some unrelated things happening to me during my senior year, I started questioning why I was attempting to change my behavior.
I knew I could manufacture spiritual reasons for changing my behavior but I wondered if I would still be attempting to change my behavior if I didn’t have a religious faith.
The answer always came back yes. I realized that the only reason I was trying to change my behavior was because I had a need to be accepted. I had to be accepted by God or I felt I couldn’t live. I had to be accepted by my parents or I couldn’t live.
breaking from the idolatry of acceptance
Throughout the years I struggled with accepting my orientation, I never once considered the option of simply accepting myself. I listened to spiritual leaders for two decades speak for their God. In doing so, I fell victim to the idolatry of acceptance I was willing to do anything to have acceptance from my family, friends and the world around me.
I didn’t have anyone telling me what to do or what not to do. I wish that I had found someone to give me some guidance on how to accept myself as a gay person and a human being. But I found no one to help me. So I started listening to my own heart and learned how to do it myself.
Everyone that I know who has ever tried reparative, restorative or ex-gay therapy has told me that they are doing it for acceptance from God, their family or friends. My heart breaks every time I see one of my gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender brothers or sisters wasting months and years of their lives trying to convince themselves and others that they are acceptable because they have reached some form of simulated heterosexuality.
Even though I know everyone going through what I went through comes to a point of self acceptance, what haunts me are the wasted years. Time that could be spent living life, serving others and experiencing love and personal
freedom from the chains of self-induced slavery.
That’s why I write the books I write. That’s why I do the work that I do. I believe that if I can shine a light for someone…the light that no one gave me… that I just might make the world a brighter place to journey through. If, every day, I find that just one of my gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender brothers or sisters has rid themselves of the idolatry of acceptance and found personal peace, then I have done more than I ever thought possible.
If I can do that, you can do it too.
You are not alone. If you are struggling with gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender feelings, you need to know that there are millions of us who have been on the same journey. You do not have to believe what are you being told about yourself in your counseling or restorative therapy. If you need to talk to someone who has been there and made it out alive, just email us at HeartStrong. We respond to every email. Real peace and real happiness are there. Just reach for them.