Brent Persun


I grew up in a church that posted "Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve" on the roadside sign. So when my parents found me looking at gay porn as a teen, I soon found myself in Christian therapy. And I was entirely on board. I spent two years taking 2 hour trips once a month to see a Christian counselor who specialized in people struggling with same-sex attraction. My family had changed churches—going from KJV only to a preference for NKJV or NIV—and the youth leader at the new church was a Cedarville grad. When it came time to decide on a college, Cedarville became an obvious choice.

I came to Cedarville still working to overcome my same-sex attraction. I ended up in the Dean's office and Cedarville's counseling. After talking with my counselor at Cedarville, I decided to tell my roommate and RA about my struggle. They both took it fine and were open to encouraging me. Oddly, about a day later, one of my friends, Corwin, came out to me. So of course I then shared my struggle. We were in two different places: Corwin had admitted to his homosexuality while I was still denying mine. We had a lot of conversations about it, neither of us budging, perhaps partially because we're both so stubborn.

A couple months later, Cedarville hosted their first Critical Concerns series on homosexuality. The speaker gave his details on a study conducted to determine if people could get rid of homosexuality. And the results of his study were basically: some people can change, sometimes, maybe. Hearing that I was devastated. I had been working so hard to get over this. And for what?

After the series David Olsen hosted the meeting for Cedarville Out. Corwin knew about it and told me to go. I went to Beans N' Cream for the Cedarville Out meeting. While there I heard David and other members talk about their lives. I realized for the first time that someone could be gay and Christian. It was a huge realization.

I ended up meeting with David the next day to talk. I was quiet and stammering. Thankfully David knew what was what and who was gay (me). So once I finally muttered, "I think I'm gay," we were able to talk for a while. I was still struck by how someone could be gay and Christian. I had never really seen it up close before. It was normal! (As normal as David is, anyway.)

I took a while to work my way to total acceptance, but after that night I knew I was gay and there was no changing it. David put me in touch with another Cedarville Out member who had a similar childhood as I did. I was able to talk through a lot of the issues I had and come to terms with being gay.

And I quickly came to terms with it. I was soon scouting the boys of campus with Corwin. (Sorry straight boys, sometimes we do.) I spent my next two years at Cedarville stuck in the odd Cedarville closet limbo of being not-quite out. Senior year I moved off campus with Corwin and another hall mate, which made life much easier. I still felt frustrated by being stuck in Cedarville and in the closet. But I had great friends around I came out to that provided the support I needed. After graduation I sent around emails to old friends from high school. I got mixed reactions. Some took it well, saying they had known. Others sent rather scathing replies disguised in love. I know they had good intentions, but it still hurt as I felt the friendship end. I also moved to Boston for grad school and started new friendships with people who instantly accepted me for all of who I am. I found a church welcoming to everyone, including gays.

Life still isn't perfect, but I feel so much better after coming out and being able to live fully out. Being gay is no longer a problem or even an oddity. I still appreciate my time at Cedarville for the education I received and the friends I made. But I came to realize that the rest of the world doesn't work the same way. The rest of the church doesn't work the same way.