Originally published on Sunday, April 7, 2013
This piece I intended to be ready to post on January 1st, seemed like a nice rounded date to say what I wanted to say with it. That after close to forty years of this life struggling with figuring out my sexual identity I can finally openly admit that yes I am gay. To the point this morning at church, when the pastor asked how I was doing, I could say that I was hurting because my boyfriend had broken up with me a couple days ago.
This brings in the point of why it's taken me close to 40 years to come out. I am also a Christian. I grew up going to church, my dad was a pastor and a missionary. Yet from as far back as I can recall I was more attracted to men, and I understood this to be wrong, evil, ungodly. I was torn up inside, knowing what I felt about myself and what I understood God to be. For years I tried counseling with pastors, therapists, and even ex-gay ministries to cure myself. I can't recall the amount of times I was close to killing myself because of how much I loathed myself for being attracted to men.
The question that came to mind continually for me was how can a good, loving and caring God allow me to be this way and demand that I repress and hide it so I can be one of "his children"? I vividly recall the pastor at a church I went to tell a story about a man who left his family because he was gay, the pastor prayed with the son that if the father was going to be unrepentant that God deal with him. The story concludes with the father dying suddenly shortly after. This was seen as a triumph of Godliness. I saw it as a condemnation of my life. I began praying that if God wouldn't cure me he'd kill me.
After several years of prayer, study and introspection, I realized the God I thought I knew was not the God I read about in the Bible. The God I thought I knew was evil, maniacal, vindictive all in the name of holiness. The God of the Bible is Holy, yes, but loving and gracious. I began to see that he made me this way not as a curse, or a fell joke, but just as a part of who I am. And who I am is a blessing, not a curse. Once I began to be ok with myself, know that I am no worse than any man (to quote Jean Val Jean) and more importantly know truly that God made me and loves me the way he made me, I began to be free to see his love in the Bible. Only a few months ago I was finally able to say that I am gay without fear, shame or guilt, and once I was able to be truthful, not just to myself but to others, I knew the reality of the verse that says "the truth shall set you free"
This painting is the most personal I have done since my series on suicide (see Tuesday, October 11, 2011 "Self-pitying little whimpers") It is personal because it's about me trying to climb out of this hole of loathing and self-hatred that I've been consumed by for most of my post pubescent life. The cost has been heartache and blood, my proverbial and Jesus' literal. I am out of the hole, and free to live as I believe God intended me to live. A life in truth,community, and love. A life that no longer is condemned to be alone but able to find (as Genesis calls it) my helper suitable, a man who will stand with me, that I can love and share life with and together grow closer to the God who made us and brought us together.