My Story

I originally wrote this for National Coming Out Day, 2010. I haven’t updated it since then, but may do so soon. I hope you enjoy this.

Harvey Milk once said, “Should a bullet enter my brain, let the bullet destroy every closet door in this country.”  I’ve attempted to live by Harvey Milk’s words since I heard them several years ago.  Today marks National Coming Out Day for the gay community; not just in America, but across the globe.  With recent events, I realized now is a pivotal moment in our history to finally make that pronouncement.  On my 25th birthday, in 2008 I came out to most of my friends.  In 2009, I came out to my parents and sister and in 2010 I am coming out to the rest of you.  I am gay.

For those that are just finding out now that may feel hurt I didn’t tell you sooner; I am truly sorry.  For some of you, I found it hard to find the words to say.  For others, I didn’t feel it was necessary to point it out.

The road to discovering and accepting my sexuality was not an easy one. In American society we are raised to believe heterosexual relationships are the only natural and accepted ”lifestyle” and homosexuality is evil, wrong and unnatural. Science has proven that statement to be untrue.

I began noticing myself to be different from my other classmates when I was around 14. As the boys started showing interest in the girls and the girls in the boys, I couldn’t help but to sit back and think of the boys. I remember trying to ignore my impulses and try to mask my orientation. I was able to fairly well for many years, but my feelings towards the same sex only grew more intense as the years went by.

I was raised in a house that believed in God, but we never spoke about it or went to church. My freshman year of high school, I joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes with a few other friends. I served on the leadership team my sophomore year. My interest in FCA sparked a religious interest for my family. Soon after I joined, we began looking for a church home.

During this time, while I served on the leadership team, I developed a very conservative outlook on religion. I believed homosexuality to be an abomination. This began an inner battle within myself over my natural feelings and what I had been taught growing up. As the fight grew, I confided in a close friend. I told her I had feelings for men, but I was going to seek treatment. I was researching ex-gay ministries to help cure me. A few months later, I chose to accept myself. Although I believe today it was my interpretation and own insecurities, back then I didn’t feel she was supportive of my decision and I quickly retreated back in the closet claiming it all to be a big joke. I didn’t come back out to her until 2008; 8 years later.

When I was 20, I was still trying to suppress my orientation and pray the gay away. I moved to Springfield in 2004 and joined Campus Crusade for Christ. In January of 2005 Cru took a trip to Denver, CO for the Denver Christmas Conference.  I shared a hotel room with several other guys. I couldn’t help but to peek when they would be changing. I felt guilty, disgusting and wrong for doing so. One of the last days of the conference, a speaker came to speak about how he was gay and changed his life through God. He was “happily” married to a woman and had children. I was very interested in hearing his sermon, but decided to go up in the mountains of Colorado instead.  Looking back, it was probably a good thing as it would have confused me even more than what I already was.

Another four years would pass before I would really come to grips with and face my sexual identity. A friend of mine had recently come out and started dating another girl. That year her birthday was at the gay club in town.  When I got there I was mortified; drag queens, dance music, men kissing other men, women kissing women, “ugh!” I thought. I was highly uncomfortable.  At the end of the night, a guy who would become a dear and very supportive friend of mine came up to me, put his hands on my shoulders and said, “I know you’re straight, but you’re adorable.” His remark stuck with me. I soon realized I was 24 years old and I’d been battling for 10 years. It was about damn time for me to live my life for me and not for how society wanted me to live it.

Throughout my struggles I never had the support of people that could relate to me. With my friend coming out, I finally did. I could finally talk to someone about how I was feeling and they’d understand.  Being friends with her helped give me the ability to meet other gay people and create a support line.  Although I have extremely supportive straight friends, they couldn’t quite understand the battles going on within me.  I am very grateful for the friends I do have, and thank them for being so supportive.

Besides coming out to my parents, the hardest path on my road to acceptance was reconciling my Christian faith and my sexual orientation.  Through my voyage of finding the “truth,” I began questioning God.  How could He create me as I am and yet the majority of His “people” condemn me to Hell, when it’s not even their place to do so?  The God I believed in was a God that loved people regardless of who they loved.  I guess people forget the underlying theme throughout the New Testament is love, acceptance and tolerance.  It was Jesus that came up to a group of people about to stone a gypsie and said, “He who is sinless should cast the first stone.”  One of my favorite TV shows, Queer as Folk, has a quote that I like to carry around with me, “… He created you in his image.  At least that’s what I’ve always been taught.  And since God is love, and God doesn’t make mistakes, then you must be exactly the way he wants you to be.  And that goes for every person, every planet, every mountain, every grain of sand, every song, every tear…..  and every faggot.  We’re all his.  He loves us all.”

With the recent rash of gay teen suicides, Kathy Griffin does a great job of summing up who plants the seeds in these bullies’ minds to believe what they are doing is right; “…they weren’t born with it, the politicians, so-called religious leaders and pundits who have made careers out of saying being gay is wrong, or immoral or that gays are somehow less than all have blood on their hands.”  People have the right to their own religions and their own beliefs.  I’m not trying to change anyone, but people need to realize when we talk about how wrong being gay is, we are teaching our children they are less than others.  For those children that may grow up and realize they are gay, it only confuses them even more, they internalize their emotions more and feel they have no where to turn to.  Mom and Dad are supposed to be our protectors, but how can they be when they say my feelings are an abomination.  I remember when my dad’s friend came out several years before I started accepting myself, my parents sat me down and said, “it’s OK to be gay, we just hope you’re not.”  Do you think that helped me?  Of course not.  It made me even more terrified and confused.  Luckily I was older, but for those that aren’t, it’s hard to comprehend.  They may feel suicide is the only avenue open to them.  People need to put their opinions aside and accept their children, their parents, their friends, teachers, pastors, etc. for who they are, even if they differ.  If we all did this, we’d see a reduction in teen suicides.

We as a society are opening the door to the anti-gay bullies.  For the people that believe in God, you should be showing love and acceptance for the person, not condemnations.  Who wants to be a part of a group that has to justify themselves everytime they go to church and why you’re just as much as a Christian as the next person?  Who wants to belong in a group claiming to be inclusive, and yet tells a gay person they’re going to Hell if they don’t change their ways?  I know I don’t.  This is a continuing struggle for me, and I really can’t wait to do more research into the matter because I really believe the majority of people have it wrong.  My life is between God and I, not you, God and I.

I’m asking those that do believe in God, and may believe homosexuality to be wrong, to really watch what you say, especially around children.  It’s fine if you don’t want to accept or tolerate the lifestyle, that’s your problem, but tolerate and accept the person and teach your children to do the same.  I’m sure that’s what your God would want.

Through the nearly 13 years of my struggles, I am finally coming full circle and I have accepted myself.  I’m a much happier person and I hope my story has inspired some, given others more understanding and challenges others to think.

6 thoughts on “My Story

  1. Zack, glad to have met you. You commented on my blog so I came over and checked out who this random stranger was that had apparently randomly found my post about taking my son to a baseball game.

    Can I just say first that I love your T-shirt and was a HUGE saved by the bell fan growing up? And yes, Zack Morris was my favorite.

    We are about the same age and I really resonated with how you struggled with fitting in and finding acceptance while growing up. We grew up in a cold and harsh world, you and I.

    I am a Christian and have basically been on all my life. So I found your story of your struggle with your faith very interesting. This line really stood out to me:

    “I’m asking those that do believe in God, and may believe homosexuality to be wrong, to really watch what you say, especially around children. It’s fine if you don’t want to accept or tolerate the lifestyle, that’s your problem, but tolerate and accept the person and teach your children to do the same. I’m sure that’s what your God would want.”

    You are very right. And I would even take it a step farther to say that our God would not only want us to tolerate the person, but to LOVE them.

    I am glad to find your blog. I used to be a big political junkie. I still love it. It just seems that nowadays with a husband and five little kids I am just too busy (or too lazy? lol) to keep up with it all and do all the research to stay informed. You seem to have a pretty good handle on everything, I’m gonna follow your blog and you can help me stay up to date, I’ll leave the researching and thinking up to you, hope you don’t mind!

    Again, glad to connect with you. Keep sharing your story. It’s still being written.

    1. Social media and blogging has a crazy way of connecting people it seems.

      I loved that Saved By the Bell shirt, but I can’t remember what happened to it 😦 I used to watch it all the time growing up too. I catch it in reruns every so often today.

      I’m sure that you could tell through my writing that even though I wasn’t raised with a strong Christian background, I eventually got a strong Christian background. I was in those two leadership teams in high school and college, and I also served as a supervisor on one of the largest Christian message boards in the world. I have a very deep understanding of the Bible, but after I started digging deeper, for a better understanding, things started getting really fuzzy for me. On top of that, I started seeing how people treated each other in the name of God. When I was a supervisor on that board, I was so disheartened at how much hatred some of those people I worked with had in their hearts. I hate how so many people use the Bible to denigrate others. It seems so rare anymore to see people, such as yourself as it seems to me, where you don’t cut others down. Jesus taught us to not be vengeful, and to support our brothers and sisters, to be charitable and to treat others with kindness and respect.

      When I belonged to Campus Crusade for Christ, the sponsors of the organization wanted me to become a student lead the following year. The head of the organization on my campus invited me out for coffee one afternoon and we were both talking. He asked me if I was attending a church and I told him I hadn’t, but that I was planning to check out a church that was within walking distance to Missouri State. He said, “oh you don’t want to go there, that’s where all the gays go.” It’s stories like that that really stick to me. When I hear about marriage equality, or when Don’t Ask; Don’t Tell was a big deal and people tell you you’re unworthy of God because of who you love. It rips my heart out. When I say that, I don’t mean those people use the Bible to make their case, they say things like you are an abomination, or that you are going to Hell. To me, it’s not their place to say anything. The Bible can be interpreted in so many different ways. That’s why there’s so many different denominations, that’s why there’s so many different types of Bibles. Everyone can interpret the Bible for how it fits into their lives, within reason of course, but I think that what I do with my life, as long as I’m not harming another person, or harming myself in promiscuous sex, or doing illicit drugs, or binge drinking that my sins, if they really are sins are between God and me, not God, me and whomever else wants to butt their nose in.

      I have this odd sort of quasi-spiritual thing going on in my life right now, I am actually planning to write about it within the next couple of weeks. I believe Jesus lived, and I believe that we should all be like Jesus was when he walked this Earth. I also believe in some Buddhist principles. I believe that if I treat another individual with distain that my actions are likely to come back on me at some point. I went on a soul-searching trip a few months ago. From March 1 – March 27, I visited the Caribbean, followed by a day in Japan, a few weeks in Singapore and a few days in a small island in Malaysia. I learned so much about myself, and about Buddhism, Hinduism and even Christianity.

      Sorry, I got a little long winded there, as I do a lot of times. You are more than welcome to visit my blog any time you want to, and you are always free to speak your mind… lol. I love politics and current events. I always have. In keeping with the treating others with dignity and respect, I want my mark on life to be that I helped to make this world a better place. I want to work in politics (I don’t want to be a politician). I want to fight for social justice and I want to challenge myself and others while I do it.

      Thanks for stopping by. I actually said a lot more than what I thought I was going to, but it sort of felt right saying it. Hopefully I didn’t bore you… lol.

      1. Oh you didn’t bore me at all. I love hearing people’s stories. I am pretty familiar with Campus Crusade (now CRU I think) because my sister was on staff with them for many years.

        I wish we could just hang out and get some coffee and stay up late talking about all this stuff. Are you going to post your latest spiritual story here? I’d love to here more about it.

        I guess I would consider myself a strong Christian and I too have a good understanding of the Bible. I used to be Baptist and now am Lutheran (LCMS if that means anything to you, there are different groups of Lutherans, like you said, lots of denominations) and married to a pastor.

        One thing that I have come to realize about growing up is that I had a very prideful view of myself as a Christian. It was easy for me to see faults in others and focus on the sin of others. What I have just recently come to realize, is that Christ has died and risen for ME. Because I was the WRETCH. The “chief of sinners”, as the Apostle Paul states in one of his letters. And this is where my faith has grown so much in the last several years and my love for Christ has grown. Because he loved ME first! Unlovable me! How can I not love in return after all he did for me??? Amazing Grace….Oh, how sweet the sound!

        I will still struggle with sin all my life, but this is where I rest in Christ’s forgiveness. I think so often the message of forgiveness gets left out too many times.

        Question, so in all your experience with Christianity, you mentioned that people should be like Jesus when he walked the earth…do still believe (or did you ever believe) that Jesus is God?

        Ok, I get a little long winded as well. Once again, glad to meet you. You seem like a really sensitive and caring man.

        How often do you usually post your blogs?

      2. After my first comment on your blog and seeing how you responded, I wished that you and I could have lived closer together so we could get coffee or something, too.

        I do plan to post an update to my story, I’m just trying to figure out how to approach it. I take faith and spirituality as being very sacred, so I sort of struggle with how to explain my negative feelings about faith. I feel like it’s important to bring that up.

        I really like your approach to your own relationship with God. I really think that’s how people should be when it comes to their faith. I think one of my “downfalls” from my faith that made me investigate things more was how others were so judgmental and condescending towards others that don’t live how they feel they should live. I feel everyone should look into their own sins and think of how they can live their life better. If someone is being dangerous to themselves or others, then yes, someone should step in and say something, but otherwise they shouldn’t necessarily say something unless that person seeks it out.

        I did believe that Jesus was God. Now, I believe that Jesus was a man and is a great model of how we should be on Earth. I don’t deny the possibility of him being God, but I also don’t accept it anymore. I consider myself agnostic.

        You’ve read me fairly well! lol. I am pretty sensitive and caring.

        I update every week to two weeks, I’d say. Everything really depends upon if there’s something I feel needs to be talked about, or if I am going to find a random topic to discuss. It also depends upon my motivation. Sometimes I think about writing on a particular topic and after I start writing, I lose interest.

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