Anonymous 2’s Extended Story
It was another late night Frosty run. This had become a pretty regular tradition for my long time best friend and I. We sat on a curb in the Wendy’s parking lot, eating our ice cream and making small talk as I built up courage to have one of the most terrifying conversations of my life.
I started by explaining how big of a deal this conversation was. I told him to brace himself, begging him to keep it a secret.
“Promise to still be my friend?” I asked. He assured me nothing could separate us and asked what this could possibly be about.
“I don’t like girls…like …I…I’m attracted to guys.” I said, stumbling over my quiet and trembling words. “It’s not weird. I promise. It’s not like I’m into you…”
But before I could get the last words out, he interrupted. “Dude! No way! Awesome! This is so cool! I’ve always wanted a gay friend!”
However comforting his response was, I disagreed with it. I was scared. I was ashamed. I felt wrong.
That was my freshmen year of high school; now it’s my junior year of college. I still don’t know if it’s awesome or even very cool, but I’m not scared anymore and I’m definitely not ashamed.
But let’s back up.
At some point in late middle school I realized my sexual development was differing from my peers. As my friends began to be attracted to girls and eventually wanted to make them their girlfriends, my response to growing up was different.
I couldn’t think about it, or much less even say it, but deep down I knew it. Something was different about me. It wasn’t until my freshman year of high school that I began thinking through the difference.
I wasn’t developing attraction for girls; I was developing attraction for guys.
After coming out for the first time to my best friend in the Wendy’s parking lot, I began the process of slowly confessing this “dark secret” to other people in my life. Next, I opened up to my senior pastor. My fear was only stronger this time. He responded by handing me a Bible. He told me to open to Romans 8 and begin reading.
“Read it out loud” he said.
As I began to read, I began to cry. Years of pent up frustration were released during this moment. When I stopped reading, he said, “Keep going.” I read for upwards of five minutes. Maybe he needed to think of words to say, or he knew these were the only words worth saying, but I kept reading:
“…neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
With the support of my pastor and parents I started the process of reparative therapy. This is a type of therapy which promises to make gay people straight over several months or years through cognitive restructuring. I don’t denounce the whole experience, but I definitely denounce the goal of becoming straight. After three years of attempting to “pray away the gay” I stopped trying to fix myself. But if I wasn’t going to become straight, the only other option was celibacy. At the age of eighteen, I made a naïve, but well intentioned decision, to fight the sin of “gayness” for the rest of my life.
Once at Spring Arbor I was able to be fairly open with some professors and students about my sexual orientation. This led to some of the most healing years of my life. I learned where my true identity rests, I learned what it means to be a beloved son of God, and I learned how to accept my sexual orientation and how it makes up parts of who I am.
Most surprisingly, it was the loving Christian leaders on Spring Arbor’s campus who allowed me the space to discover what it meant to be gay and what it meant for how I would live.
Currently I live in a lot of freedom, where a lot of my friends know about my sexuality and are walking this journey with me. They don’t know what the rest of my life looks like, but neither do I. Because of friends, family and mentors my sexuality is no longer a “dark secret” and doesn’t hold much power over me.
Hurt when people accuse me of choosing to be gay (as if that is even possible).
Hurt when my orientation is viewed as a disgusting sin.
Hurt when people mindlessly use the terms “gay” or “fag” as substitutes for stupid or feminine.
Hurt when I’m not identified as a whole person, but only as another “gay guy.”
This hurt comes from those in our community who refuse to empathize with my situation and the situation of other LGBT students on campus. I am a young man whose identity is, first and foremost, defined by his relationship with Jesus. I also happen to be gay.