When I was a child, though no one around me would have ever guessed it, I secretly worried that I might be the anti-Christ. I was a model student, very active in the Lutheran church where my father was pastor. I was honest, caring and conscientious. I struggled, however, with a deep dark secret that gnawed at me daily and eventually manifested in anxiety attacks and guilt-ridden depression. I was deeply attracted on every level to other boys instead of girls. I was convinced that Jesus died for everyone except me because I had these terrible feelings. I dated girls, one of which actually asked me if I was gay when she broke up with me, confounding my dedication to the opposite. I had my friends perform an exorcism. I prayed constantly to be cured.
Finally, after college, I was lead to a Jungian analyst and former Lutheran minister who asked me to just let the feelings surface and then deal with them. I wasn’t quite prepared for the torrent that ensued.
Through the whole, long process I grew to see how much I was learning about love and how family and friends were having to “love outside the box”, as it were, in ways that never would have materialized had I not been born with this orientation. I began to meet many other gay and lesbian children of clergy and started to realize that God was doing something very special. The God who loves variety so much that he created oceans, deserts, mountains, valleys, snow, sand, gardens, rivers, stars and so much more included me in that brilliant creative dance with a gift that I wouldn’t recognize until I opened my heart. It is only when I accepted this gift that my symptoms of stress and depression subsided. As I embraced the person God created me to be I felt alive, excited and fulfilled. For the first time, I became truly happy.
As I engage others in conversations which I hope will change their hearts and minds to preserve the state constitution and uphold the California Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage, I am reminded that my own journey was a process, and one which I had no choice but to take. I am asking others to take a similar journey and confront their own fears and prejudices with much less personally at stake for them to motivate that process. But, as we observe the tenth anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a sense of urgency overtakes me. I am organizing a prayer vigil where people of all faiths will join together to pray for understanding and compassion enough to maintain our new-found rights.
When I was a child, just knowing that I could grow up to marry a man and seeing gay people praying together would have saved me years of personal agony.
In gratitude, I offer this to the newest generation of those chosen by God for this special variation on that great mystery called Love.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.