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fully out josh

August 20th. It’s really back here. It was around 8pm on a Tuesday night. Sitting in my living room, listening to a new playlist, and trying to find answers about my friends. Two Mondays before I had received a call from my friend, who kept posting on his blog about being in extreme pain the day before. His heart was broken, in the middle of nowhere, and I wanted to encourage him. He called me that Monday to tell me that he was actually wrestling with God and his sexuality – he was gay. Not only him, but also two of our mutual friends.

I knew he was gay. I knew the other two were gay, but I was in great denial about this specific friend just like I was myself. I stood in shock when the words came from his mouth about a conversation where he stated “Yeah, I’m gay…and…” My stomach fell, I felt nauseous and nervous, and it seemed as if something had broken in the spiritual realm – something of glass.

I was hanging out with a friend from high school that whole week. I was suffering from depression and so was she. We had our questions about life, God, and suffering. We were there for each other, especially after this “great blow” on my spirituality. These three men of God….GAY? These guys that prayed with me on the phone? Prayed over me in person? These guys that encouraged me when I sent suicidal texts and felt like utter shit? My gal friend and I had another friend from high school, who had just came in town. We were excited and invited him over to catch up and talk about old times. Yet, in mid-invitation, a text came back, “Oh yeah! I forget people don’t know I’m gay! It’s been some time since I came out.”

At this point, I looked up to God, and prayed, “Really? What in the hell are you doing? What do you want me to do? I’m bisexual, I think. No one needs to know. Why is there this push I feel?”

“Yes, I came out bisexual to my parents on the fourth of July….but I’m staying celibate to men..”
“Yes, I know I really desire guys more, but there has to be hope for my purity….”
“Yes, my hormones and feelings for guys have gotten out of control lately. I know the nurse at the hospital was hard for me to handle, but I’ve never done anything with a guy. I don’t have to be gay. I’m not gay. I’m bisexual.”
These were thoughts that I obsessed over for the next week.

August 20th, dealing with my new medication for depression, I had come home from therapy with my affirming therapist. Still concerned about my friends, I decided to keep reading Washed & Waiting by Wesley Hill – a book another friend of mine gave to me a few weeks before because we both had similar questions of how to handle homosexuality in the church. Hill’s book described his life as a gay man, who had decided that God wanted him to stay celibate in order to honor God. He described research on homosexuality, scriptures about it, and then how to deal with your own sexuality if you were gay.

The two sides of me were highly attentive. It was my double life. My “straight” act was eager to see what to do with future queer congregants in a church of mine. The gay me, the real me was on his toes looking for maybe a new possibility for my life.

He discusses two “orthodox” options – celibacy and heterosexual marriage…. He goes onto describe how gays being in a heterosexual marriage can be very unwise. He then draws on accounts of closeted gay men, who marry a woman one day and on that same night their bride is crying because he can not get an erection.

It hit me then.
The friends coming out, my own sexual longing, my own soulful longing, and my age gave me the conclusion that I had to make a decision now.

I had been to deliverance sessions for my gayness. I had prayed for at least nine years for my sexuality to change. I had tried mental and psychological techniques. I knew I couldn’t be castrated because my sister Jessica would tell me how unethical it was. I was 20 and before I killed myself with fake heterosexuality, I knew it was time for me to open this gift. This was the big surprise after all these years and months of depression and suicidal thoughts. It was something I felt in my spirit.

Trying to exhale this repression, I texted my sister Jessica, “I think I might be gay..not bisexual…” And just like the movies and TV episodes, it really happens….the tears unraveled. She replied back, “Really? I saw this coming, and I am behind you. And I love you.” A blessing.

I then came out on my poetry blog, which involved all of my close tumblr friends, including my three friends who came out earlier. Two of them were very stunned, especially since I was talking about how hot black girls were a few weeks earlier. Other friends were surprised, encouraging, while not being totally affirming.

I did not come out to my parents until the next day. My dad came home at lunch with food, while I creeped slowly into the kitchen. Coming up to my counter island in the kitchen, I gripped the sides, hesitated, and spit out the words “I think I’m gay.”
He stood in silent shock, stuttered to respond, but cooperated with me as I explained to him that I was going to take it all slow.

My mom did not come home until later that night from school. I slowly creeped into her study room and took her attention off of her work as she got ready for more school work. It took a few “moms”, but she finally sat down and I spit the words again – “I think I’m gay.” It took a few times to say it before she realized the situation. Once my dad came in the room to discuss, she cried. I hugged her, and she said her fear was my own safety. The homophobia. My dad and I consoled her and reminded her of the Lord’s guard on my life. She came to understanding with me, and we told each other we loved each other.

That Satuday, I was planned to move to Waxahachie, TX and start attending my new school – Southwestern Assemblies of God University. This plan was terminated as I recalled their views on homosexuality being that you “must have given up homosexuality” in order to even apply to the school. At the time a few months before, I thought it was none of their business, but since I was coming out, I knew that this was not possibly feasible anymore. And…I was happy! I felt fear about how to handle such a major transition with my psychological problems at the time, and it was another land, another place where I knew no one.

My dad and I went up to SELU, an hour away from home, to register for school, and with the Lord’s peace, everything came for me to start school that next Monday.

A few weeks later, I had come out to my aunt, my uncle, my sisters, my grandmother, my close friends, and my therapist. I received mostly positive feedback, minus my grandmother and some friends, and I decided that I wanted to let the world know for themselves in a video. On September 6, 2013, I released my coming out video, which received 747 views. Praise God. I was so blessed by the praise from friends, but most of all, the closeted that came to me with their questions and their empowering feelings by my video. They inspired me to do what I’m doing now even more as I fight for LGBTQ+ rights in multiple ways in Christianity, politics, and education.

A Year Now

gay prom
(
SELU’s Gay Prom 2014.)

Self-reflection has been even more pivotal since coming out. Being queer and a Christian makes me feel like I’m in the middle of a tug-of-war. Queers want their rights but are dealing with PTSD and pain from the Church. Christianity’s Church supposedly loves Jesus yet is the largest obstacle for queer equality.

At times, I still question if I’m even on the right track with this Jesus thing. If Christianity isn’t just a bigoted institution. Other times, I still question whether being affirming of my gayness is accurate. If there really is such a thing as someone out there for me. These are not questions of revelation to lead me into a faux, “ex-gay” lifestyle, but these are tests to my faith like any other Christian.

It makes me happy that whenever I think of just leaving the faith it is not the fear of hell that draws me back. It is Jesus….., and ever since coming out, Jesus has become realer and stronger in my eyes. He has become a closer companion and a brother. I’m His little white, gay brother, and he’s my way older, celibate, Brother of color. His death and resurrection is now mind-blowing. His love for the oppressed is what drives me. His joy is what makes me love myself. Therefore, these questions are starting to drift away, and newer questions are coming to mind.

It is quite shocking how naive I was to the benefits of coming out. Sure, I knew I would be happy, but I didn’t know I would learn so much fun stuff, learn to love myself more, gain more rationality, and come to ask deeper questions. Praise be to God. And thanks all to Him.

Since coming out, I have found my rational processes strengthened. Because I do not have to deny the startling fact that I am gay, I can approach reality for what it is and dissect the pieces. Studies even show that after coming out, queers can become better at math.

Sex has been a good, wild subject to talk about. Not that I have really done anything, though I have my bouts of lust and mess-ups, of course. It is just learning about it, hearing other people so freely talk about their passion, and seeing the real beauty of it. It is seeing a beautiful, handsome man and understanding the pieces of his beauty from his body to his soul. It is also this great freedom to finally say after all these years, “WOAH. LOOK. AT. THIS. BABE.” And then you pass him in your car and your friends laugh. That….is so therapeutic by itself. Maybe you even catcall a straight boy from far away… wait, what.

The spirituality of the situation is the greatest, though. Between the talks with other queer Christians you meet, learning to love yourself, learning about loving a guy, the quest you face with God, the liberation you work with as you bear the Cross, the reverence you find at new churches (from Episcopal to queer Charismatic), the fights you have with your family, being given the opportunity to be president of your college’s LGBTQ-Straight alliance (so thankfully!), and the questions you have from non-Christians about being a queer Christian. It is really amazing to me how much I’ve seen people have a second thought about the love of Jesus as I tell them my story and my identity.

Acknowledgments 

I’d like to make a very special thanks to my sister Jessica for making me feel comforted, accepted, and normal as I shared with her first my secrets and for being someone that has helped keep my faith alive and inspired.
I also would like to give a very special thanks to my therapist, Sam Caruso, for making me feel normal, giving me advice when I was on my hard edges, giving me spiritual advice, and everything else to bless me.
I also give great thanks to my parents for working with me in this past year.
A very special thanks to my Aunt Anne, my cousins Katie and Sean, Uncle Bill, and his children for looking out for me all of these years and opening up their arms to me as I “finally” came out to them. Haha.
I also would love to thank my “tumblr friends” Dillon, Jherrel, Jayce, and Andrew Wagner for being affirming and loving support for me as I dealt with my theological, spiritual, and emotional bouts.
I’d like to give a really grand thank you to Hye Sung for giving me affirming resources, opening his arms to my needs, and being a great brother to me as I pondered with my faith and identity.
I also would like to give a very special thanks to my friends Kennedy, Austyn, Emily, Gabby, Michael, and all of StandOUT for being so opened with me and being so proud of who they are. Y’all are an inspiration.
A very amazing thanks to Jayce, Nathan, my cousin Aaron, Luke, and a few others for just coming out and being proud as you have come from very similar backgrounds as I have.
A huge thank you to my high school friends Taylor, Danielle, and Hannah as nothing changed for the worse after I came out, for letting me be so opened, for cheering me up in my rough times, and for being proud of me.
Last, I thank God, the Father, God, the Son, and God, the Holy Spirit, for divine intervention, saving my life from death, showing me such passionate love, showing me such sweet people, and pushing me on along with very queer journey.

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for tips and advice on coming out….

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