I always knew I wanted to marry a woman and have a family of my own. So when I realized in my childhood that I was attracted to the same sex, I felt my dream might not be possible. I fell prey to the world’s narrative that “you are born gay,” which left me feeling confused and hopeless. Too fearful to share my same-sex feelings with my parents and my church, I felt disconnected from God and my family because of the tension between my desires and my beliefs.
While I served in the US Army, I secretly explored gay clubs where I medicated my pain with partying, drugs and sex with other men. I wanted to drown out the pain of not feeling attracted to women. Throughout those years, I continually felt there had to be more to life than what I was living. When I got out of the Army, I was depressed and alone.
On June 12, 2016, I was celebrating my birthday at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, when a shooter entered the building and opened fire. After losing many of my friends and being taken to the hospital for wounds sustained during the shooting, I came to learn I was HIV positive. At that moment I dropped to my knees and wept. I wanted to live a healthier life, one that was not centered around sex and damaging behavior.
I started going to a church where I received pastoral care and began connecting with a supportive faith community. I began to fall in love with the faith of my childhood. These resources allowed me to build healthy relationships and pursue a relationship with God. I chose to leave the homosexual lifestyle to pursue my true identity in Jesus. I now live a life free of depression, anxiety and fear, having a reconciled relationship with my family and the privilege of helping others know that change is possible.