Updated: Sep 8, 2020
There’s no right way to start this story. So let’s jump right in the deep end. A couple of things before I start:
1. I ask that you read with an open heart and if you start to feel your heart close off, get disconnected, get argumentative please pause and ask God to help you be open again.
2. We do not and might not agree/understand each other but that is ok! I’m not here to change your mind, I’m here to share the story the Lord and I have created up to now.
3. If you have any questions about our story, would like more information, or would like to know some of the material that has helped me feel free to ask. Trust me, I have many many books. With that said, I welcome you to the story of Joshua (so far).
I find men attractive. I always have. Once in third grade, I kissed 2 girls. One right after the other. It wasn’t out of attraction, more out of…curiosity. It was around that time that I knew I was different. The way the other boys talked about girls, with intrigue but girls still had cooties, I just did not understand! I knew I felt/thought/saw them differently. Being a more emotionally in-touch kid, I could relate more to what girls talked about and how they expressed their emotions. So right away, the divide between me and the other boys grew even more. After being bullied for my more natural way of being (more emotional, creative, can hangout with girls and it not be weird) I subconsciously decided that protecting myself meant to distance myself even more from guys.
Growing up in church and religious organizations, the ability to be the “Good-Christian” was a skill I had to learn how to master because the “secret” I was keeping was too dangerous. At 12, I had heard messages on homosexuality and how those who practice homosexuality are going to hell. Not only was it the fact that the Bible said I was going to hell (or so I thought) but it was the way the speakers spoke about it that made me feel even more of a gross, shameful, worthless excuse of a person. When leaders/pastors/speakers talk with a “that is the worse sin possible” tone, it made me feel like I could never share this side of me with anyone.
Now for a lot of my friends they were able to hide their sexual difference better. They did more of the “manly” stuff and enjoyed it. I, on the other hand, am your very creative, in-doorsy, homebody guy who will go to the lake (house) and watch you fish (from the inside) but I sure will cook dinner for everyone and make it feel homey. So because of that, the secret I tried to hide didn’t hide well. Because I was putting on the “Good-Christian” show so well, my leaders, pastors, and parents felt like there wasn’t much to worry about, “it is just a phase” they thought. Well...surprise!
Between the ages of 13-15 I started self-harming. I was dealing with bad depression that I kept a secret because in my mind Christians don’t get depressed. I also struggled with suicidal thoughts and in those two years attempted 3 times. As a young teenager that had grown up in church, the need for approval and validation of being “good” and “right” ruled my mind. As a gay teen, I felt that if anyone in the church found out about this I would: shame my family, have a huge scarlet letter written on me, confirm and validate the bullying I got, AND would get kicked out of church because I’m going to hell anyway.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t that far off. With all that traffic in my mind, the pressure I placed on myself and received from some church people to be the “Good-Christian” teenager, was already hard enough. Then when you mix in trying to deal with normal stuff like my hormones, my sexuality and its questions, I was drowning.
When my youth leaders and family found out I dealt with depression and had attempted suicide for the 3rd time, they did not handle it the best way. Unfortunately, that experience drilled it in me even deeper that I could not tell them about this part of me. We all had a secret, non-verbal agreement that as long as I don’t bring it up, they won’t. (NOT HELPFUL).
I‘ve been searching for answers to a lot of my questions since I was 16. I’ve tried different forms of therapies, deliverance ministries, and some SA (Sex Anonymous) groups. It gets so confusing at times because of the different interpretations of scriptures. I had to figure out what each side/group thought and if I believed and could see it that way in the word for myself. Here are those sides.
*Disclaimer* Not everyone fits perfectly in each side/category and you might find yourself not fitting perfectly either and that’s okay.
Side A: Believes that God affirms same-sex marriage. They believe that marriage is intended by God to be sacrificial, sexually faithful, and permanent. Not all LGBTQ+ people are capable of having a sexual orientation change or are “called by God” to be celibate. When a Side A person uses the word “Gay” they mean “experiences same-sex attraction”. The term is not solely describing their actions but mainly their experience.
Side B: Believes that God’s design for marriage is for one man and one woman. The only options for an LGBTQ+ / SSA (Same-Sex Attracted) person are mixed-orientation marriage or celibacy. When a Side B person uses the word “Gay” they mean just “experiences same-sex attraction”. The term is solely describing their experience.
Side Y: Believes that God’s design for marriage is for one man and one woman. The only options a person who experiences SSA is either mixed-orientation marriage or celibacy. When a Side Y person uses the word “Gay” they mean “men or women who engage in homosexual intercourse and/or same-sex marriage”.
Side X: Believes that God’s design for marriage is for one man and one woman. A same-sex struggling person can become straight or have opposite-sex attraction toward one specific person. They believe that marriage is the primary objective. When a Side X person uses the term “Gay” they mean “men or women who engage in homosexual intercourse and/or same-sex marriage”.
So where do I stand? I don’t find myself fitting perfectly into one specific side. I sit somewhere between Side B and Side Y. I’ve bounced around each idea and wrestled with the word. It’s been a good roadmap to help me find where this part of me fits in good theology. It’s helped me find some structure but it still leaves me no closer to understanding this broken frame. The one thing, and truly the only thing, that has helped me stay strong in this very hard life is the Cross.
I live in a world that’s got me stuck between two loud voices. A huge part of the LGBTQ+ community does not understand why I do not follow my sexuality (in their words “heart”) and have a partner and live “MY BEST GAY LIFE”. And on the other side, a huge part of the Church community does not understand why I’m still gay. It makes finding friendships, acceptance, family, etc. hard because I just don’t fit in.
Personally, every year in June I’m hit with mixed emotions. There are real parts of social injustice that LGBTQ+ people face, and when there are small victories (for example, the States passing the bill that LGBTQ+ can not be discriminated against at their workplace because of sexual orientation) I want to celebrate. At the same time, I feel judged by the church if I do because it might look like I am choosing their community over the Church/Christian community.
I know right now, I can’t biblically justify belonging completely to the LGBTQ+ community but it is hard to belong completely to the Church because of how they have treated me. I have to remind myself every day to pray for the Church, my brothers and sisters, my leaders, and all members of the Body. I do not have it all figured out, I do not have the scriptures all understood, I do not know how my sexuality will change (if it changes) in the next (insert time frame).
I wish I could end this part of my story with a “happy ending”. I wish I could tell you that I am strong and confident. But to tell you the truth, it is hard. I’m constantly fighting myself, non-believers, believers, queer, straight, old, young, etc. With every step, I have to prove to people where I stand. I have to keep on reassuring Christians around me that I haven’t walked away. Because of that, it makes being vulnerable and inviting others into my journey/story way harder. I know I need the Church and other believers and I do want the Church and those believers in my life. But I want to be treated the same. The same way I trust them and their walks, I want to be trusted. Sometimes it gets so hard that I wish this wasn’t my cross to carry. Sometimes I still wish I could be straight, at least with being straight I won’t be pushed away when I talk about my sin nature and the problems it brings me.
This journey is not easy, no journey is. I, the same as everyone else, need the grace and strength that only the Father can give, and I need the saints to rally around me and encourage me to run the race. I’m in need of God and of His people.
So for now, this is Joshua. I hope you can see the beauty, pain, and grace in this journey.
Joshua is the kind of friend you wish you had. Honest to a fault, hilarious and sharp. He's likely the most encouraging person you'll ever meet while never shying away from a good heart to heart. Joshua's also an incredibly gifted singer, artist and songwriter based out of Kansas City, MO. Be sure to check out his music where ever you get yours from!