JOSHUA PEREZ-RIJOS

My sexuality belongs to Jesus. I feel comfortable and at peace embracing being a man. I am free.
— JOSHUA PEREZ-RIJOS

I came out and told my mom and stepdad that I was gay when I was in middle school. I had grown up in church and before coming out I had contemplated committing suicide if God didn’t change me. 

       Throughout high school and my early college years, I performed in drag shows as a genderless club kid. In the midst of those hardcore years in the St. Louis club scene, I went to Puerto Rico every year to visit my dad. God spoke to me in such a profound way through him. My dad knew about situations I’d been in and thoughts I’d had—things I had never told anyone.  I would return to St. Louis feeling freedom and joy and wanting to leave the lifestyle I was living, but I worried about what people were going to think and say because I had made a name for myself in the club scene.

       God spoke to me during one trip to Puerto Rico and said that chaotic things were going to happen, but that he was going to protect me. A month later, my city of St. Louis was in flames. A young black man, Michael Brown, had been killed by a police officer, and the city was in an uproar.  At that moment, I realized the world I lived in wasn’t the wonderland I had thought. I wanted to change my life.

       I told God that I would stop smoking weed by August, but I quickly forgot about this prayer. August came around and I was driving while high. My heart started racing and my vision went white. I pulled over and began to repent. That was the first time I recognized God speaking to me. He said, “Stop filling yourself with that and fill yourself up with me.” 

       From that moment on, I chose Jesus. Being sober has taught me how to build healthy and transparent relationships with people. Before it used to never be that way. I am living out my process in a church community. My sexuality belongs to Jesus. Someday I hope to be married to a woman and have a family, and until then, I feel comfortable and at peace embracing being a man. I am free.

Bree Stevens