I have grown up in a conservative Christian environment my entire life. My life revolved around church. I went to youth group up until junior high and from seven to fourteen I professed to be a Christian to anyone who asked. I didn’t know who Stevie Knicks was and the first time I began to understand what it meant to be gay was when Clay Aiken came out of the closet (American Idol was one of the few shows my parents would let me and my younger sister watch on Fox.) I was sheltered. I always knew that I was gay, though. All through grade school I would play Barbies with my sisters and would only be interested in things bright, colorful, and made of plastic when boys would come over to my house for scheduled play dates. I didn’t understand why I was so different when I was eight, but I ignored how different I was and continued to pursue things that interested me like the children’s choir, church play etc.
Then came my first day of junior high at my private Midwest Christian school. I remember spending so much time getting ready for that first day. My mom and I went to American Eagle where she bought me a stylish outfit that would help me not look like the awkward transfer kid (I had been home schooled up until this point). It didn’t help. I was awkward. At thirteen, instead of playing the newest Halo game on Xbox, I spent hours playing minigames on Neopets so that I could buy my Aisha neopet a baby paintbrush. I still made quite a few friends (most of them boys who I had little in common with). I would go to youth group and play basketball with the boys and ignore the girls (because that’s what boys did in middle school). I even told my closest guys friends that I thought the girl I sat next to in U.S. History was hot and that I would “totally kiss her at spring formal.” Inside, however, I was developing a crush on one of my best guy friends at school. I wondered what it would be like to go to the movies with him instead of that girl in my U.S. History class. I would feel guilty about any sexual feelings I would have towards boys and whenever the time came to pray and confess on Sunday morning, I would. I asked God to forgive me for the lustful feelings I had towards boys and to ask for his help to like girls and not boys. I was scared.
Truthfully, I never felt any kind of sexual excitement towards girls. I got hard-ons when I saw boys with their shirts off. I was first introduced to gay culture when one of my guy friends convinced me to audition for the school musical. Being in a musical at school changed everything (cliché, I know). I met other kids who I thought acted and talked a lot like me (I had a very high-pitched voice back in middle school). I heard kids laughing about shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race and instantly my life changed. I stopped going to youth group and instead would devote my weeknights to rehearsals.
I met a girl in the theatre department and we instantly became best friends over our combined obsession with Hilary Duff and anything American Eagle. My guy friends began to make fun of me for doing theatre and hanging out with girls. That’s when I first became scared that others thought I was gay. I remember one kid in gym class calling me a faggot (which now I realize was bullying, but at that time I had no idea what that word meant.) I was sad that some of the boys thought of me like this, but at the same time I was having too much fun with my new theatre friends to actually care. The first time I met my first openly gay friend was through community theatre. At first I was shocked, I couldn’t believe that this girl could be so open about her “sin.” That’s when I began to understand that a lot of people had the same feelings that I had. I found a community outside of church and school that didn’t care what others thought about their same-sex relationships and desires.
Even though I began to feel more comfortable about my sexuality, whenever I got asked the question, “Are you gay?” I still became scared. Scared of what my parents and the church would say, but mostly my eternal damnation from God for acting on my thoughts. I treated my sexuality like a disease. I knew it would never go away but still I would look in the mirror and be upset with myself because I was a faggot and I knew that wasn’t going to change.
I ignored the church for most of high school. I felt like an outsider. But I also never really felt like I fit in with my theater friends that my parents disapproved of either. I constantly tried to find a medium. I searched “gay Christian” on Google and found many others just as confused as I was looking for an answer. I was depressed, and it wasn’t until I took Ethics in high school that I understood that my sexuality was something I shouldn’t be ashamed of. My Ethics teacher argued that no one could really stop being gay, but that they have been chosen by God to lead a celibate lifestyle. And that’s what I thought God had called me to do, until the following week happened and I realized there was no way I was not going to be with the dreamy emo MySpace kid in my writing class. Celibacy scared me, so I ignored the church again and came out to a lot of my close friends my last few years in high school. I did well in school and got accepted to a small Christian college in New York City (because my parents would only pay for my college education if it was Christian). Along the way I had met a few guys, but nothing sexual really happened with any of them.
I moved to New York City for college and I began to receive a totally different reaction from church life here than I did back home. I felt like I could be open about my sexuality. I have a great group of gay friends outside of and inside the church. I still feel conflicted about my sexuality and whether or not to pursue a celibate lifestyle or to be with someone if the opportunity arises. It’s not that I want to be married with three kids one day living in suburbia, but I also don’t want to be alone at forty when all my friends are married and I’m not because I have chosen to lead a single life (YIKES). So here I am, feeling tugged between two very different choices for my life and future as a gay Christian. My spirituality and relationship with God is not something I want more than sexual gratification, but I also don’t want to live the rest of my life alone while the rest of my friends find relationships and love.