Fair warning, this is a very long post, but I think it conveys my story well enough. 🙂
When I was younger, I was taught into believing that I absolutely cannot be gay and that being gay was a sin. As a “church boy” from a conservative Christian Filipino family, it was drilled in me.
Many times my parents (especially my mom) have shamed gay people, and shamed me whenever I acted even remotely gay. She would often tell me to “be a man” and “stop hanging out with girls” because then people would think I was gay. My parents told me gay people would go to hell, and that there was something wrong with gay people. Being raised in this environment, I’ve been taught and drilled that gay = wrong & sinful & you will go to hell.
I’ve always been affected when someone thought I was gay, or even assumed that I was gay. It was primarily because I didn’t be associated with being gay, because it was instilled in me as a child to be taboo. Personally, I still didn’t fully understand why it was so wrong, but I simply mustn’t be. My school experience wasn’t helping either.
I remember one incident in grade 5 that I vividly remember to this day. There was an unruly boy in my class (let’s call him R) who was always mean to people including myself. He would often tease me, but the bullying was manageable. However, one day during French class, we learned the word fatigue which means “sleepy.” R made a remark out loud, saying that I was fatigué and everyone laughed. In French, fatigué sounds like “fat and gay.” At that instant when everyone was laughing, I was so embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t realize that I was fat nor that I came off as gay.
At the time, I didn’t know what it was that made me “gay.” I also didn’t think that I was fat; it simply didn’t cross my mind at the time. On top of being conscious about coming off as gay, did I also have to worry about my weight too? I thought I was just a normal (normally-sized) boy, hanging out with friends and being a good student in class. I was super friendly, really nice and outgoing. There was nothing wrong with me, but why was I being bullied?
I didn’t know what made me gay, but I knew that I didn’t want to be bullied. I thought that maybe it was the way I talked that made me “gay.” So after that incident, I talked less and less in class. My teacher noticed this change too, and asked if there was something wrong. Afraid that I would be bullied more if I tattled, I said nothing. I wasn’t comfortable telling my parents either, because they would’ve told me to “man up and ignore it,” or my mom would’ve said “then don’t act gay.” As a child, bullying is already so hurtful. But without the support of your family, it cuts even deeper wounds.
In and outside class, I became conscious about my actions. Every time we reviewed the word fatigué, I froze, wishing that R wouldn’t make a joke out loud. R found the tick that he could tease me about, and he continued to do so. If there was a new topic in class, I was worried and anxious that he or someone else would make a remark about me. For the rest of the school year, I felt scared and nervous, hoping that no one would make a joke about me. I suppressed my personality, bottled my warmth and kept quiet.
This continued until grade 6. I consciously took the persona of a quiet, shy kid instead of a loud, flamboyant child. Even when R wasn’t in my class anymore, I didn’t want to give anyone a chance to tease me for being “gay.” I told myself to be quiet, do well in my classes and don’t hang out with girls.
Yet, the nicest people in my classes were girls, so it was easier for me to make friends with them. However, in the back of my mind, I told myself that if I hang out with girls, the boys would make tease me for being gay. So, I tried to keep my friendships with girls at a minimum. I wouldn’t hang out with them during recess & lunch hour, and I would just walk in the fields or playground alone. The only time I’d interact with girls was during class, when it was necessary. But I was happy that I was talking to friends who were nice to me.
During recess, I would try to hang by the soccer fields where most of the guys were. I wouldn’t join their soccer game, but make it seem like I’m part of the guy group to outsiders. I didn’t want to look like a loner, but I really was a loner. And I felt lonely. Sometimes, some girls would tell me to hang out with them, but I thought, “I’d rather be lonely than be teased.” I truly hated school at this time. I didn’t want to go to school, but I had to.
Because a boy made a snarky, mean comment about me in grade 5, it consumed me during the span of a year. I became an entirely different person due to fear and bullying. I didn’t do anything wrong—I was simply being me. If I wasn’t conditioned into thinking that being gay was wrong, maybe this incident wouldn’t have affected me so much. But I was, and I hate that I was.
At home, I couldn’t even be myself. I wasn’t comfortable telling my parents about school or anything at all, because they never nurtured a caring home environment for. Instead, the home environment was more of a job: if you do good work, then you are rewarded. My parents took control on the basis of fear; you had to follow them so you wouldn’t be punished.
Anytime I expressed myself, I was discouraged and rejected. There was a time when I started using “like” all the time (like a valley girl), and I remember my dad angrily saying, “Why are you talking like that? Talk like a man.” After that incident, I became conscious about the way I talked. There was another time when I strutted with a bit of a girly sway, and my mom shamed me for walking that way. She said, “Don’t walk like a girl, walk like a man.” After that, I became conscious about the way I walked too.
I felt that every little thing I did was under scrutiny, and there was so many things that I shouldn’t do.
“You shouldn’t walk like that.”
“You shouldn’t talk like that.”
“You shouldn’t hang out with girls.”
“You shouldn’t wear that.”
“You shouldn’t act like that.”
Thinking back, I hate how I was raised up. I hate the restrictions placed on me, which really stifled my confidence, creativity and ability to express myself. My parents never validated once me, which was really hurtful. I still hold this against my parents; if they only let me be who I am, I might’ve been a person who is less anxious, more confident, more expressive, and more assertive.
Puberty is an exciting time to start discovering yourself. As a teen in puberty, I was still learning and discovering things about myself. It was also around this time that I realized that I was attracted to guys, and I hated myself for it. I tried so hard to be straight; I even tried to act “straight” by dating girls. I would say that I liked girls, or point to girls that I liked when asked about who I liked. This would reaffirm myself and others that I was straight. But I knew I was lying to myself and others.
I prayed to God earnestly, asking him to make me straight and not be attracted to guys. But in the end, it was fruitless. I hated myself for having those feelings, and eventually fell into depression. Because I was told that I cannot be gay, the reality of being gay was scary. Just when I thought I was myself, I was told that I couldn’t be myself.
Friends who have my back
Because of my bullying experience, I didn’t like the company of guys. Anytime I was around guys, I was conscious, nervous, anxious and afraid. It’s funny, actually. I was attracted to guys, yet I didn’t want to be around guys. I much preferred having girl friends because they were nicer & more welcoming. However at home, my mom told me not to hang out with girls, with fear of other people thinking I was gay. So in my head, it was either have no friends or hide my school life from home. I chose the latter because it’s too lonely to be alone when I haven’t even accepted myself.
In my high school, I found friends that I felt safe enough to be myself without hiding my personality too much. In my circle of friends, I flaunted my flamboyancy without shame and I didn’t feel judged for being me. I’m so blessed to have met my closest friends, whom I’m still friends with until today. They taught me that it’s okay to be me. With my friends, I felt really safe being my flamboyant, extra, fearless self. We enjoyed each other’s company, and laughed our ass off. 😆
Then I had to go home after school.
When I go back to the house, I felt the need to box myself and stay quiet & distant. Otherwise, my mom would make a snarky shameful remark about the way I talked, walked, acted, etc. Society says “be you,” yet my parents said, “don’t be you.” There was a disconnect between who I was with my friends and who I was with the family. I hated why couldn’t I just be the same person everywhere.
Growing up is hard
As I grew up, it gradually became easier to act myself more and more. Society has become more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community, and the people around me became more accustomed to my personality. Even still, I couldn’t come out (even to my close friends) because I was raised to believe gay = damnation.
Yet as time passed, my feelings never changed. I wasn’t attracted to girls. I hated myself more and more, and I asked God why I was this way. Why couldn’t I just be a “normal” guy, who was attracted to girls? I prayed and prayed and prayed that God would make me straight, but He didn’t answer my plea.
I thought that if I didn’t give it thought and consciously ignored my homosexuality, it will just disappear with time. Many times I prayed to God asking to make my same sex attraction dissipate. I was disgusted with myself because it was unnatural to feel this way towards other men. I hated myself. I thought I was evil because I felt this way. I asked, “was I created this way?” and “was it a choice to be gay?” I’ve always thought and truly believed that it was choice to be gay. Yet, I chose to be straight and still I felt this way. I know that God knows my heart better than I know myself, and he knew my feelings.
Even throughout university, I always thought that my gay feelings would go away once I found the right woman. In the middle of university, I hit a point when I thought that maybe I can’t change the way I feel. Maybe, just maybe, God created me this way. Who says that people cannot be born gay? Who says that God only loves straight people?
Completing school was an accomplishment, but thinking about the future gave me much anxiety. I was worried about finding a job, my finances, relationships, my sexuality…my future in general. At this point, my sexuality was the only hindrance I’ve yet to face. And it was only the past year that I was thinking more about my sexuality.
I gradually learned that I didn’t choose to become gay. I learned that I was born gay. No matter how hard I change my feelings, I know it would never work. It was time to stop lying. Stop lying to others, and most importantly, stop lying to myself. If I actively denied this identity, then I’m only hurting myself because I would hate myself more and more. I feel that if I openly accept who I was created to be, I can openly discuss my challenges as a Christian and a gay Christian at that. If this was part of my identity and if I was created like this, who am I to deny it?
Being a gay Christian
Becoming a Christian was straight forward for me. I’ve been taught what was right and wrong. I grew up in the church and raised in a Christian family. However, no one forced me to accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Yes, I was told to pray and believe God at a young age, but it was my own choice to accept Jesus in my heart. I’ve reaffirmed my faith in 2015, and I’ve learned so much about Jesus since then. I accepted Jesus wholeheartedly before, but now it was such a joy to finally realize Jesus’ love for me. I can say that I am in love with Jesus, and that he is in love with me. Jesus loves me for me.
I don’t believe that being gay is wrong—in fact, it’s totally okay to be attracted to the same sex. For those who don’t know, there are 2 sides to the gay Christian viewpoint: Side A and Side B. Side A believes that God blesses Christ-centred same sex relationships. Side B believes that gay Christians are called to lifelong celibacy. We are all subject to our conclusions in this area, but the single most important thing to do as a follower of Jesus is to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39).
So many Christians condemn gay people without knowing them. They believe that you should “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I recently read the book Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate by Justin Lee, and there he talks about the idea of “loving the sinner, and hating the sin.” Yet it’s not what Jesus said. Jesus says “love the sinner, and hate your own sin first.” He teaches people to look in the mirror before looking at other people.
I’m gay and that’s okay. God loves me for who I am—all my flaws and strengths, all my failures and successes, all my sorrow and joy. It’s still a struggle to live as a gay person, but with God as my strength, I know I can overcome anything. The biggest obstacle for me was accepting myself. Now that I’ve accepted it myself, I really don’t care what other people may think of me. As Rupaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
Accepting myself as I am
I’ve battled myself over and over and over the idea of homosexuality. For conservative circles like my family and the Baptist church, it’s looked down upon and considered a sin. Because of my feelings, I’ve felt alone and isolated. I couldn’t tell anyone close to me due to fear of rejection and judgement. Yet in that loneliness, I found comfort in Jesus. I know that I am loved even if no one else loves me. In those dark times, I could only trust in Jesus. I’ve learned that people will fail you, so you can’t put your trust in people. Time and time again, people (even my own family) have failed me because I’ve relied & depended on them too much. I’ve learned that I can only fully trust on myself and my God. It is God that gives me strength, and it is with God that I can do things with purpose.
It’s so liberating to say that I’m gay…and that’s okay! While I am gay, it’s only one aspect of my identity. It’s not about me—it’s all about Jesus. My identity is rooted in Jesus, first and foremost. Being gay won’t turn my life around, and it won’t uproot any foundations I have. I’m simply accepting myself as I was created so I can be happy and live freely!
If you are confused with your sexuality too, it’s okay. Be LGBTQ+ and be proud of it because that is how you were made! Don’t let anyone or anything knock you down. You are strong, you are resilient, and you will overcome!