I was a little boy in the south who had a profound deep-seated faith in God. I prayed all the time that I would be a good person, that I would be nice to people, that I would be kind and complete God’s will in the world. I had good, nurturing parents who encouraged me to follow my talents.
As teenager, realized I was different, but I still knew God loved me. I didn’t understand, but I wasn’t afraid. I left home for college, accepted myself and realized I’d never marry and would live my life as a gay man. But then I started going to a church that claimed to have a different answer. They wanted to cast the demons out of me.
I tried really hard. I prayed and read the Bible every day. I even got married to a sweet woman in the church. The church and my wife performed a ritual exorcism. But my thoughts of men never went away. They were always there no matter how hard I worked or what I did. Finally, I decided to make peace with those feelings. They weren’t evil. They were part of what made me human and what helped me love another person.
Once I accepted that my feelings were there, my life became peaceful again.
On the one hand that experience made me a deeper, more spiritual person. I especially don’t take love or relationships for granted because I fought so hard to figure out who I am. I’ve thought about life and what it means to be in love.
I now think it’s inherently evil for a church to tell you that you have a devil in you for being gay. It’s wrong. Nobody should have to go through what I did. The experience did make me stronger, but it also hurt a lot of people, including my ex-wife. If gay boys and girls could just fall in love and marry their high school sweetheart, that would be so much better.
At that church people thought that because I was gay I couldn’t be a teacher, that I wouldn’t be a good role model. But I did become a good teacher. At age 29 I even became a school principal. And I have a wonderful boyfriend.
I wouldn’t trade one day in my life for what I have now.