I was a perverted child, destined for a life as a moral degenerate, outside the grace of our Creator and segregated from the fellowship of a church family.
Or so I thought. At age 9.
Cause by age 9, or thereabouts, I knew that the sight of a woman’s breasts (curse you SkineMax) did something in my belly that it didn’t do for other little girls. I had an urge to kiss girls and hold their hands and make them mine. I felt cursed by my lack of penis, stuffing my pants with socks in the privacy of my bedroom to simulate the missing mechanics. I was simultaneously convinced of and confused by the Creator’s obvious mistake.
I was equally convinced of something that I considered diametrically opposed to my “perversion”: I wanted to be a wife, and raise kids, and live in a home neatly situated behind a white picket fence.
What was a girl to do with these equally strong, innate desires bursting forth from within the same little spirit? Well, nothing at age 9, of course. But you do dream. You imagine what could be. You set goals. You seek out role models. You begin to develop a sense of self and priorities and values that will feed into the decisions you make as a teen and beyond.
The sense of self that I began to develop wasn’t pretty. In a parochial school where we fundraised by selling shirts that said “God made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve”, I had no role models. When I imagined myself kissing a girl, we were immediately engulfed in the flames of hell. Each time the evil that was “gay” came up in derisive conversation , the truth about who I was sank deeper and deeper inside. And as the hormones of my teen years raged, I felt dirtier and dirtier for thoughts that you wouldn’t be surprised to find in any adolescent boy’s head.
I struggle to find the words to express just how I felt during those years. All I can say is that there was profound self-loathing, much more than my little spirit could bear. And shame. Deep, gut-wrenching shame, so strong that even now as I write this there is a flush to my cheeks, a churning in my gut, and an intense desire to stop giving voice to those feelings that I spent so much energy suppressing.
And I was supposed to feel that way.
When you get right down to it, that is exactly the way that the process was designed to work. I was supposed to believe that “gay” was nothing more than a perverted set of sexual acts that infected those with weak moral character. I was supposed to believe that the Creator would not love the creation unless the creation hated itself. And if “gay” were merely a choice to perform and take part in a series of sex acts, it could be marginalized as a lifestyle, as a temporary status, as a phase. A transient, flesh-based status that could bring you nothing but transient, flesh-based pleasure.
Gay does not love. Gay does not nurture. Gay does not commit. Gay fucks. Period.
Without evidence to the contrary in my sheltered life, I ate the lies, swallowed my natural sense of self, and made the choice to be straight.
Of course nothing really changed inside. And when I went to college, I found it “other-worldly” enough to finally act on the feelings I had been suppressing. But I only planned to act on them temporarily. Because even with this new found freedom, there wasn’t much new found knowledge about what it meant to be gay. In my mind, it was still a temporary dalliance, a college indiscretion. An opportunity to sow my wild gay oats before settling down and getting on to the real business of living the straight life that would give me the
spouse, kids and white picket fence love, joy and commitment I was still yearning for.
I was at least 20 before I considered the idea of a relationship between two same-gendered people a legitimate option for others. I was even older before I considered a same-sex relationship a legitimate option for myself. And it was only then that I could come out.
My story has a happy ending, of course. Today, I celebrate two years of marriage with my beautiful wife. The dream I never dared dream has come true. And I couldn’t be happier.
Every person deserves a happy ending. Every child deserves a life free from self-hate.
So why is marriage equality important? Because the lies that support marriage inequality are weapons that are used to bully us and our children into misunderstanding of self, into submission to false authorities, and into the closet. We must fight against those lies. We must fight for marriage equality.