I grew up Catholic. My father took me to mass every weekend, and I went to Catholic school from first through 12th grade. I wanted to be just like my dad, and I tried to fit in at school.
Catholicism was what I understood. As a teenager, I did volunteer work and went on retreats. I called myself “pro-Life” and said homosexuality was unnatural. In high school, I was given the Senior Superlative for “Best Christian Attitude.” I considered joining the priesthood and went on a weekend retreat to a seminary in St. Meinrad, Ind., to experience prayer and seclusion. There I felt a peace I wanted to believe was a communion with God. But it wasn’t. Instead, I found a need for life experiences, and I realized that I wouldn’t have those experiences by turning away from them.
I went from a Catholic high school in Nashville to a secular university in Greenwich Village. My father warned me to have my beliefs intact beforehand because I would soon encounter so many others that I’d get confused. I hated being in New York that first year. I felt uncertain of everything. I tried to bond with other Catholics at school, but that felt awkward. They weren’t the same as my high school friends. I wanted life experiences, but suddenly I didn’t feel ready for them.
It’s been 14 years since then. In that time, I have earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, moved to Washington, worked with an award-winning television producer, and made and lost friends. I’ve also accepted that I am gay. None of that I’d understand the same way had I not left home. Despite my mistakes, I have no regrets, something my dad has also said. It’s one way I have turned out just like him.
As different as life feels for me today, I don’t see it as ideal. I still don’t accept everything about myself. I still misjudge, hurt people and wish I were a better person. But I learn and continue to grow. Now I have the love of a man who has become my partner and my challenge in life. I didn’t look for him, and I didn’t think of him as significant when we met. Five years later, I believe that I am the perfect admirer of his human imperfection and of his beauty.
I no longer accept blindly that there is a god. But, if there is grace for me, it comes when my partner says he loves me every night before we go to sleep. Even more so, it alights in me when I say I love him.
I believe that I do not truly know what will come. I guess that having faith in what should or could happen can be healthy and even necessary for those who cannot accept an uncertain world. But I believe that it’s OK to be uncertain. It’s OK to live and love for today.
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