It has been a rough road for me spiritually in the last 15-20 years. I graduated Cedarville in 1994, and left confused and bitter on the inside, even though I managed to hold it together on the outside.
I spent the rest of the 1990s going to counselor after counselor; attending a 20-week ex-gay program called Living Waters (an Exodus affiliate); and praying, clawing, pleading, hoping, and working for an inner change that would take away the desire for an “unnatural” relationship with another man.
I gave up the fight in early 2000, and spent 18 months trying to make up for lost time–hooking up, dating, etc. (This can be an inherent danger in bottling up these emotions and desires-they can express themselves in unhealthy and dangerous ways.)
Thankfully I met Jason, my partner, in late 2001 and he is one of the very few reasons that I cling very tenuously to a belief in a loving God. Jason is a wonderful man who works as an advocate for the elderly population that is homeless or at risk for homelessness. We became registered domestic partners in Oregon when it was legalized in 2006.
Throughout the last 10 years, I have struggled with anger and bitterness toward Cedarville and the rest of the “Christian” subculture, toward God (or who I thought was God), and even toward well-meaning Christian friends. I moved to Portland, OR from Ohio in 2004, partly to get away from my church and from a work environment where my boss was one of the biggest advocates for the anti-gay marriage amendment in Ohio (which passed in 2004).
Moving to Portland with Jason has been the best move of my life. If there’s any hope for me finding out what is true and what is false about God and about Jesus, I’m going to find it here rather than in a region of the country where politics and religion are so enmeshed that being a Christian automatically means being a Republican.
In early 2010, for reasons too countless to list here, I decided to come out to my immediate and extended family. There was much fear going into it—I didn’t fear being rejected, but I did fear causing them pain, disappointment, and guilt. I feared that they would blame themselves somehow, thinking that “bad parenting” led to my homosexuality. It’s not true–my parents are loving, kind people who gave my sister and me a wonderful home and a wonderful childhood.
It wasn’t easy. My parents and a few of my extended family have been loving and supportive; my Mom especially has made the effort to understand and also to get to know Jason. However, I would say the majority has chosen to give me the following “1-2 punch”: (1) Write a letter expressing concern over my “sin,” “lifestyle choice,” or some other similar word/phrase. (2) Immediately withdraw and ignore. It has been REALLY hard, because I love my family and have never been in a situation where they disapprove of something about me. However, I don’t regret coming out, and I am leaning on those family members who ARE being supportive as well as Jason’s family, close friends, and the Cedarville Out community.
Today, I’m definitely in the middle of a spiritual journey and nowhere near a destination; and not even close to the type of spiritual journey I envisioned when I was at Cedarville. I would be more than happy to share more of my story as well as listen to yours – contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.