Many of my gay friends bear the scars of religious upbringings. Some more than others.
I know, I know. The stories of the Young Gay trying to pray away his alleged sins, trying to hide his clandestine hook-ups with curious friends and knowing strangers, trying to avoid handsy priests and youth ministers after choir practice or during lock-ins: these are the stereotypical stories that draw the media’s attention, sell books, spawn movies and plays.
But just because they’re stereotypes doesn’t mean that they’re not true.
* * * * *
I was raised in the Southern Baptist church in the middle-of-nowhere Mississippi. Difference and diversity were as foreign as subways and discotheques.
I was a poor match. As soon as I figured out what “gay” meant, I knew that “gay” meant me. And I knew that that was bad. Our preacher said so, my teachers said so, my family said so.
I spent a decade running from myself — hiding from myself, really — denying my urges, wishing I could be “normal”, and fooling around with plenty of guys on the side. Living that kind of double-life required loads of secrecy and Olympics-level mental gymnastics.
Even now, long after I’ve given away my last fuck about what people think, I’m still wary of religion. Christianity is the scariest monster under the bed, but honestly, all faiths make me skittish.
Which is why I was surprised to get this message from my sister-in-law on Sunday: