I was born into a Christian home, and I was in church before I could even talk. I was very blessed, but around the age of 7 I knew I was a different. I didn’t have any idea what that meant, so I lived my elementary school days not paying much attention to it. I know I had a much easier childhood than many kids. That doesn’t mean there weren’t unhealthy things going on though, and it doesn’t diminish the pain I felt or experienced. There were many factors that made me distance myself, as much as possible, from men; both physically and emotionally. This in turn made me cling unhealthily to females. Things didn’t get much better after elementary school when I transferred. I remember being picked on all the time because I was different. I was more feminine and liked girly things, and wasn’t into sports. I was not doing well socially or academically. Being called everything from “sissy, faggot, and queer,” I was told I was just like a girl. This was a lot on a kid who had so much anxiety about his home life. I was being called these names without even associating myself to being a homosexual or even really knowing what it meant. I was so miserable at that school that my parents took me out and transferred me to a Christian school before I finished my 5th grade year. I began to attend the youth group at the associated Baptist Church, and at age 13, I accepted Jesus into my life.
I began to grow in the Lord and learn about Him. After a while, I felt accepted and that I had a new home. I wasn’t picked on, had good friendships with people of both genders and was doing better academically. I also attended the youth group and was very involved in missions and worship and other things and was constantly growing in the Lord and experiencing His work in my life. But I always had a huge secret; one that confused and scared me. Around the age of 12, I began to have a fantasy life about guys instead of girls (like all my friends were). I didn’t chose for it to happen, this was just where my mind would go. I would occasionally think about girls but was always drawn back to guys. I told myself it was a phase and that there was no way I was really gay. I made a pact with myself that I would deal with it myself and no one would ever know about it. I lived my middle school and high school years struggling with secrets and confusion.
It was always something at the forefront of my mind and caused a lot of depression and anxiety because I was wondering why it was happening to me. Being young and not having much spiritual maturity, all I thought I should do was pray that it would just go away. Again, I vowed never to tell anyone. Amazingly, I grew so much in the Lord, despite all of this. Then in the 10th grade I transferred to public high school. I had grown more comfortable with myself and didn’t let the issue of my sexuality bother me as much. Eventually, being exposed to this whole new world of public school, I began to use drugs and alcohol as a way to fit in with my group of guy friends and for once did feel like I fit in. I did anything to take a break from feeling insecure about my sexuality and my weight. I tried everything from popping pain pills to alcohol. I changed a great deal my junior year of high school.
God did however deliver me from drug use through some tough love, like a good father does. I got clean, graduated high school and attended a few semesters of college in which I went through a lot of mental health battles but God was so faithful. I overcame all of them by His great love. Then in December of 2011, I shared my secret for the first time. I remember the first person I told was my former youth pastor’s wife. This news was no surprise to her since I never really talked about girls, except for Mariah Carey, and the latest drama going on in my “girlfriend’s” lives. She was always a huge influence in my life and helped me through so many other things. At the same time I was turning 18 and with years of repressing how I felt, I made the mistake of telling almost everyone I was close to. At this point I had been going to gay bars almost every single weekend, and began to immerse myself into the gay community of Asheville. I became very open about my sexuality.
All along, I knew I was running away from God and had no peace about my newfound “freedom.” I began to pursue guys and that left me with nothing but a lowered self-esteem, hurt feelings, and even needier. I had begun this journey, searching for something that would satisfy all these years of loneliness and ease the pain, meanwhile believing the lies “that I could never change” or “be worthy of true love”. I spent more and more time thinking about how I never measured up to and looked like other men. I had left my church and now became depressed because the gay community did not fulfill my expectations. I was struggling between the two worlds. All I wanted was to be loved. I finally realized that this life wouldn’t really ever satisfy me. Then one day I was talking to my close guy friend from church, who I have always viewed as a leader in my life. I told him I needed help and wondered if there was someone that could help with this specific issue.
I still to this day do not what he searched, but he sent me a link to WNC Truth ministry, which is now New Beginnings Support. I emailed the counselor, Meleah soon thereafter. This was a totally Spirit-led action, because I had never heard of an SSA ministry in my entire life and here I was pouring out my issues to a stranger through email. I began counseling and going to the support group. I was so excited that I had found something that would specifically help me with this issue and for people that struggled the same way and understood. I began to see myself differently and began to see my identity in Christ and not as a gay man. I began to really envision the purpose that God has for me. One of the greatest moments of my life was when I shared my testimony at an event, where Meleah asked me to speak. After I shared my testimony, a Father (who had a son dealing with homosexuality) came up to me, put his hands on my shoulders and said, “Those things, that those boys said to you, are not true. I’m sorry for everything those boys did to hurt you. What they said to you is not true! God wants you to know that you are His son and you are His boy.” I immediately felt God’s presence overwhelm me like I never have in my life.
I began to see the qualities in me that I used to think were flaws as things that God made to be put to work for His kingdom, for example my ability to connect with women is going to make me a great husband someday. I began getting more involved in New Beginnings ministry, and I never imagined I would be sharing anything about myself in front of people like I am today. God has done more than I could ever ask or think of, just like He promised. I still deal with same sex attraction, but it no longer has power over me like it used to and it is not where I find my identity. The freedom I have found in Jesus has been like being released from prison. The family and love offered outside of God is a counterfeit. What God and His family offer is real and lasting.