When I think of my recent wedding and the stress that came shortly before it, there was nothing more stressful than dealing with my husband’s religious family members. However, it’s not like I don’t understand where they are coming from. I once believed that God wouldn’t be happy with me if I embraced my inner desires. I also tried convincing myself that these were just feeling of lust and likely not something that contributes to the love of God.
In high school, I was proud to be a Roman Catholic and practiced a mostly chaste lifestyle. I wanted to please God in every way that I could, however my “weakness” like most other teenage boys was masturbation. Any time I had strong sexual feelings for another boy, I shamed myself then even further shamed myself for what I did in private. However that’s not a habit that’s easy to stop as a teenage boy with all of those hormones going crazy. Otherwise, I was all about saving myself for a wife. I wondered if once I had a wife, that maybe these desires would be tamed or even go away. Go ahead and laugh. ;)
In almost every other way, I would say I was the typical good role model as a Catholic boy with the exception of my dirty sense of humor I enjoyed sharing with classmates. My social life wasn’t the greatest because of how much I brought up the religion subject but I was close to God and to me that was way more important.
My childhood best friend introduced me to churches other than Roman Catholic ones too. He was more into the charismatic evangelical churches and although I proud to be a Catholic, I enjoyed meeting new friends in these other churches and also enjoyed the way they worshipped a lot more. I actually enjoyed going to church when I went with these friends, whereas when I went with my family to Catholic Church, I didn’t feel welcome by the regular church goers.
I made a decision shortly after high school. I felt as if God was liberating my soul in a way. I wanted to be more open to these other churches. We all worshiped the same Jesus and as a Catholic boy I was taught by teachers that the bible isn’t completely accurate and the catechism has been changed on some past issues in the first place. So how can I be so sure that the other denominations were all wrong?
There was a boy I went to meet whom I had been chatting with on “Myspace” and we went to go see a movie. I gave into my desires with him that evening and I just remember on the bus ride home how ashamed I felt. I then said to myself, that I would never do that again. I told him when I got home on my computer that I didn’t want to see him again.
Eventually I made my regular church an Alliance one. I liked that they wanted me to get involved and looked at me with a lot of respect. They even let me wear my baseball cap to church! I was like “I never have to do my hair for church here! Awesome!”
I took chastity even more seriously and even had many church member pray for me about the “sin” I did in private. I was addicted to porn by this point, although I didn’t share the kind of porn that I was watching to my friends.
Eventually I was a leader for the youth in the church and through a retreat I met a girl who seemed as silly and goofy as me. We got along great I showed her so much respect in our relationship, except what I was still doing in private. The prayers and the suppression were not helping and now there were even male friends in the church who I was having these desires for.
My girlfriend dumped me because she could tell I wasn't interested in her like other couples show each other. I had a friend who got into the wrong crowd shortly after the breakup who I was very attracted to, and I struggled with those feelings for him. Being a believer that this was not right, I didn’t act on these feelings. When he met these new friends, he didn’t come to see me much anymore and the hurt I experienced from that showed me that I loved him much more than a friend. I missed the way he would hug me, the way he told me he loved me and that I was his best friend.
I still struggled for quite some time. But it got to the point where my old friends felt that I was becoming too religious and I missed them. I started to reevaluate what I was doing to myself and the friends that had been there for me since before all of this happened. I’ve had best friends before, and finally realized that whenever I called someone my best friend, I truly loved them as something more. The thing I most wanted was a male best friend who wanted me as much as I wanted him which I had yet to find. The hurt and pain that I experienced from the friend who stopped seeing me was far too intense to ignore. I was aware that I needed someone special in my life. I stopped going to church and recognized that there were some things that I needed to figure out with the people in my life who want me in their lives just because they loved me and not because I shared similar beliefs as them or went to the same church as them.
As I got older, I realized how much more I needed a companion in my life in so many ways. I never have done well all by myself. I lived by myself for around 5 years in an apartment and those were some of the darkest times of my life. I was suicidal at one point and although I was embracing my sexuality by this point, I would get “cold feet’ a lot due to the echoes of the church. I started to realize that nothing in my life would work unless I gave myself over to love and became more trusting to other people in my situation. I started to date more seriously and seeking someone to spend my life with. A couple of times it didn’t work out and I even started to question religion again at those moments. I started going back to the same church and I got a little sidetracked with them again. At one point I was willing to walk away from my desires, but I just didn’t see myself being happy if I were to go down that road. So I “got on my soapbox” and told as many Christians I could that I am gay and that I believe there is nothing wrong with it. I even brought a boyfriend to the Young Adults Christmas Banquet that year. I got some weird looks, but I was in love and the looks I got didn’t bother me that much.
I’ve told most of this part of the story before in past blogs, so I’ll just say that my courage eventually cause a spark for rights in different churches. I was part of two different religious groups for gender and sexual diverse people eventually and again stopped going to that church. I got involved in the Anglican Church for a short while, however by this point I was questioning Christianity altogether. What I had experienced in the church for the most part was not very loving. There was always conditions of this “love” they shared and it was not the kind of love I recognized for even family and friends. The kind of love people go above and beyond for. The kind of love that I show my husband.
My relationship with my husband is the most pure form of love that I have ever shared with someone. I’ve never loved someone as much as I love him. I’ve found that person in my life who wants me as much as I want him. How could this love we share be something as evil or unnatural as so many people claim? If it’s the sexual act that you’re against, well I’m not going to go up to you and say what you should or shouldn’t do in your bedroom… in other words this “sin” you claim I’m committing is simply not your business.
Make it your business the love we are experiencing from our relationship, not things that do not concern you. You’re entitled to your opinions that this isn’t a real marriage, but you cannot deny that this is a real relationship and that we are helping each other tremendously in our lives. We will always do so. We’ve found each other and the sooner you accept that we are a huge part of each other’s lives, the sooner that we’d be more willing to visit with you and hear your thoughts. Be respectful and loving, not fearful and indifferent. From those who know us, if you are to show us love and respect, we will show the same to you. Let’s honor our rights on this earth by being more civil and loving… I swear I’m not the Devil. I am a loving person who has good intentions and a very caring nature. How could you have such an issue with me?