contributed by A Strange Boy
My parents are both devout Christians and my sisters and I were both raised in the faith. My father is an ordained minister. My mother stayed home to raise us. It wasn’t really a traumatic upbringing or anything but it did mean regular church attendance, Vacation Bible School (something my younger sister came to resent) and greater scrutiny against “evil” influences. Overall, my parents were still considerably more lax than the stereotypical fundamentalist upbringing but sex was still something to be done after marriage, between two people of the opposite sex.
I didn’t admit to myself I liked other men until I was 23. It came rather quick in a period of “I wonder if I am gay” moments that were too urgent to ignore; it was on my mind a lot and I figured out that I needed to finally ask myself that. I had other moments of wondering before that, mainly when I found my mother’s old abnormal psychology textbook and found myself fascinated with the section of homosexuality, reading a newspaper article about local teen gay activists in Winnipeg, or passing by signs for Catalyst, the GLBT society at my university.
I had a departure from my faith around age 20. Before that point I had been involved with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, and considered myself Christian, but some discussions with a more fervent old-school Calvinist made me realize that I disagreed with a lot of his hardline stances about homosexuality. At the same time, it also made me feel that the feel-good lovey-dovey variety of Christianity was not providing any answers and felt more like a shallow empty ritual. I stopped attending church or IVCF, but still thought of myself as heterosexual.
My coming out to myself came rather suddenly. I was thinking to myself about the times I’ve kissed men over the last few years (usually in drunken affection) and realized that I enjoyed it on a deeper level than I had expected. Suddenly, a lot of things about myself growing up clicked, and the more I explored my sexuality, the surer I was. I had originally self-identified as bi but over the last 6 years I’ve come to realize that whatever interest I had in women seemed to be more for the status of not being single than any sexual attraction. I still gravitate towards women when seeking new friendships, but I can’t see myself getting sexually involved with anyone but a man.
I’m slowly coming out. My parents don’t know yet, and the prospect of telling them still frightens me. My sisters do, though, and they’re fine with it. A good chunk of my friends know as well, either because I’ve explicitly told them or because I’ve dropped enough hints that it’s not particularly well hidden. I still don’t consider myself fully out though, and feel that it is holding me back from living an authentic life or fully integrating myself into the community. It’s also what’s stopping me from seeking a committed relationship at the moment. There are times when I really feel isolated. But then I look at my progress over the years and realize I have become more comfortable in my own skin, and that I have been able to build a community online over the last few years. My friendships are more meaningful because my friends now know this part of me.
It’s not that it hasn’t been hard, and it will be hard in the future. But it’s getting better, and it will continue to get better.
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