The following is a guest post from my friend Liam.
Hindsight is 20/20. Let me explain. Growing up, I pictured I would one day live a perfect life: white man, beautiful wife, great kids, and a big house. Like many of our childhood dreams, I realized that’s not exactly going to happen. It doesn’t really help that I’m tan-skinned, gay, and my desired career as a high school history teacher wouldn’t quite pay the bills. Like I said, hindsight is 20/20. Getting to the point I made that probably stood out to you: yes, I’m an 18 year old gay dude writing on my friend’s Catholic blog. I guess you’re wondering how I got here; it’s okay, I sometimes question my sanity, too. Going back to that idea again: hindsight is 20/20. When I was a kid, I never knew what gay was. Besides “don we now our gay apparel”, I had never heard the word in my life. When I did come to the realization that I was gay (OHHH that explains the unnamed attraction I felt towards Jesse McCartney and that guy from Phil of the Future—there’s that darned hindsight), I was totally lost. I had allowed society to shape my mind as a child into not knowing about and then not accepting what it is to be gay. I had no guidance, and so I turned to society again…big mistake.
This time I turned to a different sector of society—one that said, rightfully, that it’s okay to be gay. Great. It is okay to be gay, because it’s not a choice. It’s a cross to bear, just like there are any number of other crosses that people must bear. (It’s also a blessing, but that comes later.) But it didn’t stop there. I fell into the trap that said it is okay to be gay and to make that one small part of me define my entire life. I’m blessed because I had an amazing support base in the form of my loving family and friends. But they really didn’t understand how being gay differs from being straight, especially when it comes to dating. This is where things got ugly. Considering such a small percentage of the population actually is gay, finding a significant other is more like selling yourself than anything else. Grindr, Jack’d, 321, chatzone, I had them all. I always had good intentions when using these tools: I wanted a boyfriend. I wasn’t looking for sex. I was going to save myself for the one I loved! I wanted what everyone else had around me. I wanted to be happy like them. What I didn’t realize at that point is that I was looking for love in all the wrong places. (Again, hindsight is 20/20.)
The more I thought this way, the less I relied on my relationship with God to make me happy. I felt empty. When I realized I couldn’t reach people on these social media outlets with talks of love and romance, I allowed the conversations to be turned into sexual ones. That got their attention. I began making promises, and then I began to fulfill those promises. Albert Einstein (he was a pretty smart guy) said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. With every different guy, I believed that things would be different. If I gave him what he wanted, he would magically fall in love with me. Our relationship would be founded in lust but it would magically become something holy. But you can’t expect sin to beget virtue; whether gay, straight, or bi. Sin begets sin. And with sin comes loneliness, feelings of worthlessness, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. (Now, doesn’t this sound like the side effects for a medication commercial?)
I started fulfilling these promises when I was 17. A year has passed. In one year, I destroyed my relationship with God, family members, and friends—all because I was empty and angry that everyone else wasn’t suffering along with me. I lost so much faith in myself that I didn’t even realize just how low I had sunk until I was awakened. <Enter Chris.> This happened at a retreat about the Holy Spirit. To keep a long story short, it saved my life. I thank God that Chris told me to sign up. Over this retreat I realized that God sees more of my own worth than I do. God trusts me. He loves and adores me and even filled me with His Holy Spirit. I felt my heart on fire, I cried, I even laughed for joy. I was so amazed that God would grace me, a sinner, with such an incredible experience.
When we came back from the retreat, I came out to Chris. And what he did in response amazed me: he prayed for me. He didn’t “pray the gay away” or ask God that in the future I would like women and get married. He prayed for me because he knew I was hurting and because he knew I needed a change in my life. He didn’t pray because I was gay and committing sins, but simply because I was committing sins. He was the first friend that I had come across that removed the gay label and didn’t support me simply because I was gay and confused but because I was human and confused. I don’t think he will really ever understand the impact that he is having on my life, even as he reads this over before he posts it to his blog.
So what’s the point of all this? Why do people (ESPECIALLY young gay people) need to hear my testimony? (Yes—it is because I’m very interesting BUT besides that…) I want people to read this because I want them to know an alternative to what society tells them that they have to do. Gay or straight—you don’t have to advertise yourselves on social media outlets to gain recognition. Especially in the “gay world”, you see that people-shopping is a common thing. Don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Believe me when I tell you that hindsight IS, you guessed it, 20/20. Hear it from someone who went through hell and came out (no pun intended) on the other side scarred but not broken. The path to self-destruction is lined with glittery promises of love and commitment that simply will not come true on places like Grindr. You may be curious—I get it! I really do. But trust me when I tell you that acting on that curiosity killed the metaphorical cat, along with its self-esteem, moral compass, and its friendships.
But then what?? Am I supposed to live a life of chastity? No sex? It’s not fair! Straight people can get married and have sex! Woah… hold up there. We are all called to chastity, even married people. Sorry to break it to you straight folk, but you’re not going to have it easy, either. There are going to be times when you will be tempted, even in a married state. We are called to chastity because God knows how we humans work. When we live a life of promiscuity, we become addicted whether we like it or not. This is because we feed off of these destructive relationships for our happiness. But it simply is not true happiness. Every time we give into desires of the flesh we get our momentary fix, but end up craving more and more like a heroin addict. It’s not the sex we crave—but the illusion of happiness and the false sense of security.
Still, I understand the arguments made for two gay people who are in love. It confuses me sometimes, too. It just doesn’t seem fair that two straight people have the option to live their lives in comfort when we gays don’t. To counter that, however, is the fact that, like I said, straight people don’t have it easy and don’t live in perpetual comfort, either! Marriage is difficult, as is any other state it life. Also, I was recently told by my friend (another missionary at my school), in a totally unrelated conversation, that we are not made for comfort. That one short phrase put so many things into perspective for me. Life is messy. We are dealt cards that seem unfair and burdens that we can barely carry. But we can carry them. And we will carry them. God would never give us a cross that we cannot bear. This becomes clear when we humble ourselves and simply realize that as our Creator, God knows us better than we do. When I came to this realization over the retreat, I surrendered: not to the wounds on my heart from people who left when they said they wouldn’t, not to the doubts in my head that said I could never become anything beautiful, but to the Will of God. My heart gets light as a feather even thinking about this. I feel so free now that I have removed the burden of virtually selling myself to people who just don’t care and never will. God has worked in me in so many incredible ways in the time since the retreat. It’s not because I’m now miraculously healed of “the gay” or because I am no longer tempted, but because I placed my trust 120 bajillion percent in God. God’s Door is always open; it’s up to us to keep ours open as well.
So what am I to do now, then? Should I pursue a life with another man or one dedicated God and chastity? The answer is that I shouldn’t be pursuing anything alone. Each one of us is called to discern what God wants us to do. God would not put us in a place where He knows we would not be happy. It’s simply a matter of trusting God. For now, I am taking things one day at a time. I am focusing on prayer and giving control to God, Who knows me better than I know myself. By living a chaste life at this moment (as all people are called to, not just gays) and opening my heart to whatever God has to offer, I know I will end up happy—even if God puts me on a very unexpected path. So please trust me when I tell you from experience, gay or straight, now is the time to surrender and trust. Everything else has a way of falling into place.
Let me leave you with this: you are beautiful and you deserve so much better than a life of aimless promiscuity and heartbreak. If you are gay, God made you that way because you have a specific role to fulfill in the Divine Plan—a role that God Himself trusts you with. He trusts you. It is when I realized this that I was able to overcome my past and become chaste (as we are ALL called to be—gay or straight, for the reasons explained above). It was at that moment that I realized that I could turn the shame of what I did into knowledge so others could learn from my mistakes. It was at that moment that I realized that informing people, especially my fellow young gay people, was the path I was to take next. It was at that moment that I realized that being gay is not my entire identity, but just a fraction of the person God made me to me. It was at that moment that I realized that being gay is not only a cross, but a blessing.
Growing up, I pictured I would one day live a perfect life—that life may not exist, but by God, I’m sure as heck going to make the best of the beautiful one that I do have.