Growing up, I wasn’t a typical boy who liked sports. I was sensitive and enjoyed playing with dolls and dancing. People were always telling me that I wasn’t manly enough, and I was mocked about it from grade school through high school. I was also sexually assaulted when I was young, and I was bullied frequently. Then in high school, when I became more aware of sexual orientation and heard people saying that this is what it means to be gay, I decided, "Okay. I failed at being straight. Maybe I could try living this lifestyle."
So, I began identifying as gay, and I found a lot of confidence in being accepted by the gay community. I started drinking, doing drugs, and being promiscuous at an early age. Then I started to drink more and do more drugs until I was having a lot of blackout nights and not remembering on the next day what I had done the night before. I was having multiple sex partners without using protection, and I was seeking men through outlets that weren’t safe.
Then I began having suicidal thoughts. I felt really empty because there was something inside me that thought, I’m more than this. But I didn’t know how to get out of the lifestyle. Still, I knew if I continued in it, it wasn’t going to end well.
I found a ministry focused on getting to know the heart of who you are, rather than focusing on the behaviors you’re doing. I learned about my true identity and how to have real relationships. I was honest about my same-sex attractions, and my friends there still accepted me and were a safe place for me to be open about my story. It was scary to be authentic at first, but they didn’t judge me; instead they encouraged me. It was a powerfully healing experience.
I began to process through many emotions and events that I thought I had dealt with, learning to see the truth in them. I realized that many of the labels that had been put on me were just lies. I learned to feel accepted and loved by God. And I was even able to forgive the person who sexually assaulted me.
I’ve also learned that it’s okay to be a sensitive man. I like to love people, hear their stories, and work with children. I didn’t get to experience those things before because of all the shame I felt.
I had girlfriends when I was young, but men were saying that I wasn’t man enough to have a girlfriend. So I experienced a lot of rejection and shame that influenced my mindset. Now, I’m dreaming about having a wife and kids one day,