Growing up, my mother would periodically remind me of the time our postman asked what I wanted to be as an adult. The average four-year-old may not have a clue, however, I was confident in what and who I wanted to be and responded, “Wonder Woman!” My mother would continue the story with how I actually did believe I was, in fact, Wonder Woman when one day she overheard my older brother getting bullied by an older neighbor and I shouted, “Oh yeah?!” and began spinning to transform into her to protect him.
Although I never became wonder woman, I did learn that to survive in my ultra-Pentecostal family I would need superhero powers. My family was church-going, demon-delivering, tongue-speaking, miracle-believing fundamental born-again Christians. Certainly nothing wrong with my family, or their beliefs – with one exception; you cannot be a church-going, demon-delivering, tongue-speaking, miracle-believing fundamental born-again Christian if you are gay, and I was.
Because I have four uncles that are pastors, church was not just an hour or two event on Sundays, rather a life event all day, every day. I accepted Jesus as my savior around the age of nine. I started speaking in tongues around twelve. I had many revelations around this time including coming to terms with the fact that I was gay. Gay topics were rarely if ever, discussed in our family but when they were gays were depicted as drug-using perverts waiting in foul dark alleys for vulnerable young boys to walk by so they can be preyed upon. Gays were possessed by Satan, hated God, and died suffering slowly from diseases He created to punish them.
I certainly did not want to be any part of that culture so I turned to, and put my trust in, my uncles for “deliverance.” They were going to rebuke and rid my soul of all the evil demons and set me free from being gay. One by one, visit by visit, they each laid hands on me, casting out demons that were destroying my destiny. Some were demanding demons of darkness and destruction leave me, others screamed and shook me to scare the evil spirits back to hell. Eventually, I was told by all four that I was no longer gay, and to have faith and obey God.
Because attractions and thoughts were an everyday part of my life, I felt that I deeply disappointed my heavenly Father and the shame from it manifested in drug use, addiction, and worthlessness. I was told that God loved me but not what I “chose to do.” Wanting to please my Heavenly Father desperately (as well as my family), I decided to get serious about knowing who I was in Christ. I did everything in my power to change. I prayed, fasted, constantly rebuked thoughts and attractions, and read every piece of information on “reparative therapy” I could get my hands on. I even started writing a book in the hope that I would eventually use it as a guide to help others stop being gay.
With my kitchen table filled with Bibles and concordances, I researched and cross-referenced every presumed anti-gay Bible verse like never before. However, while doing research on my book, inaccuracies began to emerge. The five or six presumed anti-gay verses or stories in the Bible were not at all how and what I was told they were. God began revealing that what I was told was misinformation (though well-intended) passed on from generations, and my self-identity because of this was a tightly multi-layered ball of lies. God promised that together we would peel those toxic layers away and reveal the man He created. On my journey, He would constantly remind me that He knew precisely who He was meticulously forming in utero (Jeremiah 1:5) and that He did not make junk or mistakes.
These days, I am contently married with two children. I have learned that God never leaves nor forsakes us; only we can choose to stay away from Him. Would I have chosen to stay away for as long as I did have it not been for the way I was raised? I cannot say with certainty, either way, however, I can say with certainty that I would not be sharing my story in this book had it turned out any other way. Yes, God has a plan for ALL of His children.
In retrospect I appreciate, what many times, I thought were my tombstones as I now have come to understand they were all merely stepping-stones. I am a Christian, father, spouse, soldier, teacher, and newly published author. I am soon to celebrate fifteen years of love and laughter with the most wonderful God-loving man.