Faith and Confusion


by: Christopher Brown


I was born the second of three children. My brother was thirteen months older and my sister was nine years younger. During my early childhood, my father was an officer in the Navy and my mother was a housewife, having taken time off from her job as a schoolteacher to raise children.

I was brought up as a Methodist, faithfully attending Sunday school every week. I grasped the Christian ideals at an early age. These ideals were strengthened when my father was stationed in Hawaii and I attended second, third and fourth grades at a Catholic school. My parents were told that parochial schools were superior to public schools on Kauai, where we lived. I loved attending religion classes and wondered why I couldn't take communion and go to confession like most of my class. I secretly made plans to convert to Catholicism when I grew up.

As I got older, my parents (mother especially) became more and more involved in the fundamentalist Christian movement. I could never understand the concept of being "born again". I couldn't remember a time in my life when I didn't know who Jesus was and that he died on the cross for my sins. Therefore, where was the need for me to become "born again"? I already was!!

As my faith grew, so did my confusion over who I was as a person. I was always different from most of the boys in my classes and neighborhoods. Even my brother seemed to enjoy different activities. His, in fact, were like most of the other boys. He liked racecars, football and bb guns. I, on the other hand, found much more interest in what the girls were doing. Growing up, most of my closest friends were girls. I could relate much more to them. Plus, I had an easy, instant rapport with the other boys who also made friends with the girls. (It wasn't until much later in life that I found out why!!)

In high school I found myself much more attracted to the cute guy in the class than the cheerleader all the other guys chased after. Of course, because of my religious beliefs, I refused to believe that there was anything to this attraction other than simple envy. I wanted to be like this cute guy, that was all. At least, that's what I kept telling myself.

As I grew into adulthood, I held fast to the belief that some day I would meet a girl who did for me what that cute guy in high school had. After all, I was a Christian and there was NO WAY I could be gay. Even the thought made me anxious.

When I finished college and moved out on my own, I started making a lot of new friends, many of whom were gay. It seemed like the best times were spent in the company of gay men and their "fag hag" girl friends. Even still, I secretly prayed for their souls. It wasn't my job to judge them, but after all, their "lifestyles" were sinful, weren't they?

Throughout this time, I went through the motions of dating a few women. Although we had fun together, I never connected with any of them romantically. I became more and more lonely and miserable. I found myself envious of the life shared by some of my gay men friends. They seemed to be so comfortable with themselves and so joyful all the time. I was curious to go into a gay bar, but didn't dare. This might be admitting something that couldn't be true ... ever.

I prayed all the time. I wanted Jesus to show me a better way. Introduce me to other people. Help me find a different job. Anything to keep from being as lonely and miserable as I had become and to change the feelings that had been stirring within me. I had always had a healthy, positive outlook on life. Why was I now becoming so lonely and depressed? And why was International Male much more exciting to flip through than Victoria's Secret?!

It was about this time that I met "Alex". I went to a party given by a co-worker. Alex was there and we hit it off immediately. We discovered that we had a lot in common and became fast friends. Alex was one of the most self-actualized people I had ever met. He knew who he was and what he wanted out of life.

There was one problem, however. Alex was gay and made it pretty obvious that he found me sexually attractive. I made it clear, however, that I was not gay and that any feelings he had toward me in that way would never be reciprocated. I sought the advice of friends, both gay and straight, for the best way to handle this situation. They all convinced me that I was being unfair to Alex by remaining friendly with him and if I didn't cut him out of my life, I would only be leading him on. I began to distance myself from Alex. I eventually transferred out of state to what I thought was the answer to all my prayers.

There I was with a new job, new apartment and a whole new set of friends. It wasn't long before I fell into my same old life. I had lots of friends, an active social life and was completely lonely and miserable. I lived thousands of miles away from my family and felt my life was going nowhere. I spent money like water and sunk into debt. All the while I kept asking God what I was doing wrong. I continued to attend church and treat all people with dignity and respect. I thanked him for providing me with the necessities of life. Why was I so miserable? Why wasn't he listening to my prayers of deliverance from this lonely, empty existence?

A few months later, Alex came out to see me. He said he couldn't get on with his life until he knew for certain whether or not there was any chance we could become more than just friends. I could say the word and he would never bother me again, or I could admit to myself what he always suspected to be true and we could take our relationship to another level.

It suddenly hit me. I already knew I had been denying what I was my entire life. I also knew that I had been denying my true feelings for this man. What stopped me cold, however, was this: I realized that each time I had hit rock bottom emotionally and had prayed for comfort, Alex appeared. Was this just coincidence, or was Alex the real answer to my prayers? I decided to trust in the Lord and follow what my heart was telling me. Alex and I moved in together.

That was back in 1986. At present, Alex and I live in our own house back east. We have a solid plan for the future, a close circle of friends and a full, happy life. Although his folks are a lot more accepting of our relationship than mine, my parents are still an important part of my life. It took me years of pain and reflection to come to terms with my sexual orientation. I can't expect them to embrace it overnight. My sister, however, remains a constant source of support. Sadly, my brother committed suicide in 1992, after a long battle with demons of his own. A battle, I fear, he fought alone without the help of our Lord.

My education in prayer doesn't end here. Although I followed my heart and discovered a wonderful life in which I have been truly blessed, there were many days of self-doubt. How could I really be living a faithful, moral life when all around me were those who said I was going to hell for being gay? After all, wasn't this biblical? I continued to pray for guidance and understanding. I didn't necessarily want these answers for argument's sake, but for my own personal well being. I knew I was again questioning the divine answers I had been given within my heart, but I had to make peace with my intellect as well.

These prayers have been answered in many forms, not the least of which was a website called "Whosoever".

I praise God every day. He has the answer as long as I keep my heart and mind open enough to receive it. He has personally shown me that it's ok to be Christian and gay. I just had to stop, listen and follow His lead.

Copyright ©1999 by the author


What's your opinion? We want to know!! Send a letter to the editor, write to the author of this article by clicking on their name at the top of the article, or fill out our reader survey!!

Back To The Table of Contents


Books:

Called OUT: The Voices and Gifts of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Presbyterians

Jane Adams Spahr (Editor)


The Spirituality of Imperfection : Storytelling and the Journey to Wholeness

Ernest Kurtz, Katherine Ketcham



Want more books?
Visit the Whosoever Bookstore


Also In This Issue:

Mysterious, Wonderful Ways

Freeing the Bible from Fear: An Interview with Samuel Kader






Whosoever logo