I was gay before I was a Christian, but I did not really know it at the time. While one pair of my grandparents were devout, my parents didn’t care about religion, and neither did I for the majority of my life. In rural East Texas, practically everyone at least claims to be Christian, though, and we claimed to be Christian even though we never attended church and I knew almost nothing about it other than the most basic of its tenets. I believe I had a good relationship with both of my parents, and I was not abused as a child.
As I went through puberty, I knew something was wrong with me. Unlike my male friends and relatives, I was not interested in girls or women. I was much more intrigued by the male body, and I was even able to talk some of my friends out of their clothes during games before any of us were old enough to know how that could be interpreted. Once I realized I was "abnormal," I immediately denied and repressed how I felt. While I never hurled homophobic slurs at others, I laughed along with my friends when they did. I refused to think about my own feelings towards other boys. Other boys spent their time fantasizing about and chasing girls, but I channeled my energy into my schoolwork.
When I was 16, I attended a church camp after being invited by a friend. The lead speaker at the camp preached fire and brimstone, and I was terrified into publicly accepting Christ as my savior. I began to attend church sporadically, and I learned enough to know homosexuality was evil. Shortly after, I forced myself to face my sexuality. I can’t count the number of times I tearfully prayed for God to change me. I never told anyone of my "affliction" because I was afraid of how they would react and I received enough taunting for being a "nerd." My father’s insistence that I play sports caused me to spend time in locker rooms, and I faced almost daily a temptation to look that I was convinced would send me to Hell. I attended the church camp two more times, and each time I tearfully repented and recommitted myself to Christ while remaining silent on what I felt was my real sin. I was burdened by incredible guilt.
During my senior year, I selected LeTourneau University as my second-choice school. When I was not accepted to my first-choice, I felt that God was bringing me to a Christian school in order to finally change me into a good Christian man. I entered my freshman year excited and confident that by graduation I would at least have a girlfriend and might even be engaged.
Despite my consistent prayer, my "problem" only got worse. Once I confessed to myself that I was attracted to other men, I began to find myself daydreaming about them in class and in my dormitory. My new friends used the same slurs and phrases as my old friends. The only real difference was that they knew the Bible better. I saw homosexuality bashed in classes, chapels, Bible studies, and in informal discussions. I remained silent and ashamed. I became convinced I simply did not have enough faith in God, and I adopted an attitude of cynical stoicism.
In an attempt to grow spiritually, I decided to join a mission trip during the summer of my sophomore year. As it came closer and closer to time to leave, I felt more and more guilty for my secret. One night, I decided to walk about campus to clear my head, and I was beginning to build up the courage to talk with someone about my feelings. Walking back to my dorm, I saw another student going with my on the mission trip. We had talked enough that he knew immediately something was on my mind and asked if I needed to talk. We began walking and talking, and I spilled everything to him. If you can forgive the clich愰, it felt as if a giant burden had been lifted. He showed compassion to me, but he was also convinced that homosexuality was a sin. He agreed to keep my secret and talk with me whenever I needed it, and I felt God was finally going to start to change my heart.
As I’m writing this now, it is obvious He did not. As time went by, I became discouraged, and I stopped talking to my confidant almost entirely. I came to the conclusion that I was unable to change and decided to stop trying. I slowly began to accept my sexuality, but I also began to lose my faith. I moved from the dormitories to an apartment, and I made new friends. My new friends were more open-minded and liberal than anyone my age I had ever known, and this year chose to come out to them. While a couple of them feel "practicing homosexuality" is immoral, they have all accepted that being gay is part of who I am and they are keeping my secret.
I will soon be graduating from LeTourneau University, and I plan to fully come out once I have. I have only chosen to remain mostly closeted because I do not want to risk being kicked out of school or forced into one of those infamous therapy camps. I have yet to reach a conclusion about my faith, however. I came to LETU hoping to be energized and changed, but I have become cynical and jaded about faith and religion.