Look at YOU….reading BLOG #2… thanks for joining me and I hope you find this somewhat interesting!
***Disclaimer – I am no theologian nor have I any scholarly credentials to support my information. This comes from years and years of research, torment of my brain, prayers, studies, books, podcasts, sermons, conversations, MORE PRAYERS, MORE SERMONS, more books, articles, websites, google searches…. and the list goes on and on. After reading that, maybe I should have some credentials behind my name. Truth be told, I am credentialed as a Gay Christian so I can speak to both of the subjects. In all seriousness, I have not gone to school nor have I been blessed as someone that can speak with authority on the matter. (O yes, my grammar is not on point and I currently don’t have an editor…
Now that I got that out of the way! Let me tell you a story….
It’s third grade, I notice I enjoy spending my time with another kid in my class. He was really nice to me and I enjoyed playing freeze tag on the playground with him. Good times!
Move forward to 6th grade, it’s late one night and there was a TV show on. It was getting close to midnight when all networks went off the air and the National Anthem played. It always felt SO LATE when you heard the national anthem. Anyways, right before that iconic time change, a tv show came on and in a parody it had one guy kiss another. At the time I had NO IDEA what that meant but it reminded me of a feeling I had before but I couldn’t put my finger on what it was really.
On to Jr. High School, at this point I realized I wasn’t quite as masculine as the other guys in school but I brushed it off as being raised around women. That explained why I wanted to be a cheerleader more than I wanted to play football (even though I did try one year and it was a horrible experience. I was thrown all over the place. It was not pretty). Again, the ladies man came out and I wanted girlfriends. I even had a crush on one all through school (wink wink Brittany). I don’t think she knew I did but regardless, it proved I was “normal”. My junior high years revolved around Wednesday night church and the youth group. It was easy to be involved in the church but hard to really say if you were just fitting in or if you really were experiencing God. God had bigger plans but my immature brain didn’t notice much. I did notice that there were other guys like me out there that weren’t quite the same as everyone. I could just feel it in my gut but again I had no idea what that meant. I thought I just really wanted to be their friend (again, back to that same old thought).
High School was more of a double life. I had my school life and my out of school life. It took until late 11th grade before I really involved myself into school activities. As described in my last post, certain people took me in and it really helped me grow into my high school persona (which was comfortable being “most” of me). So the inside of school Josh liked girls, dated girls, fit in with the coolest guys in the school (well I thought so anyways).
What I can say about my friends in high school is that they never made me feel bad about myself. I did a lot of that to myself but they were genuinely kind to me. There was a guy by the name of Troy Braswell that sort of took me under his wing in 12th grade. He doesn’t even know this and I don’t think I’ve ever even shared this but he really made me feel good about mysef. For the first time, I felt “cool” and he involved me in the “cool” things about high school. If I was on a Ricki Lake show bringing back someone from high school to say they changed everything for me he would probably be one of the people I brought back. He deserves an award for his kindness. Anyways, that Josh was comfortably uncomfortable in his skin.
The outside of school Josh is where I met someone that helped me understand that I was in fact gay. I never once experienced anything with this person physically that should have been a tale-tale sign but emotionally I knew I was intersted. The feelings from third grade, 6th grade and junior high school all made sense now. Of course it was incredibly awkward as this person was not gay. Fortunately I don’t have the story where I came out to this person and then was brutaly attacked. This person was kind about it but it changed our friendship for obvious reasons.
SIDENOTE – Meanwhile through all of this, my bestfriend Brooke and I knew this about one another without ever even having to speak a word. Brooke is a total GOD-THING. It was supposed to happen because he knew we would be the ultimate supporter of each other through thick and thin
I made it through high school without ever having an “experience”. I made it through graduation with no problems and then started making all those great decisions about being a soldier. You can insert bootcamp and the exit of bootcamp here. Now I’m home figuring it all out all over again.
College, the time when two worlds collided. Out of school Josh and inside of school Josh met and formed some new version of me that was lost and confused. I knew I was gay now (at least I had figured out what to call it) but I was still really weirded out by it all. I certainly could BE GAY because that meant I wasn’t a Christian. There are no gay christians right? Wrong. At this point I didn’t know though so the journey started of self discovery.
It was probably a year in college when I met a guy that really made me laugh a lot. He was older than I was, had few connections to my world, and was kind and honest. We spent some time together one evening and I just remember it being so uncomfortable for me. It was uncomfortable in a way like when you are waiting for them to call your name as you win the lottery. It was that anxious, on-go feeling. Finally after what seemed like hours of anticipation, I finally just say, “do it already”. What I meant by that was “just KISS ME or this will never happen”. Take note, at this point the last time I had really kissed anyone, like for real kissed, was in junior high school. (SORRY BROOKE, our pathetic attempts on your parents couch does not count). Let’s just say after this kiss a part of me came alive that I didn’t know existed. I finally knew what it felt like to “like” someone.
“Well, it’s official, I’m a homo.” That was the first comment I made to myself when the euphoria of the situation left. It was real and I couldn’t deny it any longer. I liked men. (Gosh I can’t believe I’m typing some of this stuff) Now I had to deal with the consequences of being gay which at the time meant hiding everything about myself and fooling everyone to believe I was masculine and straight. (Smirks, this was laughable) Well that lasted a good five minutes until I met the first love that I talked about in my first blog.
It’s funny reliving all of this in my head as I type. It’s obviously so much more complex that the simple sentences I am putting on this blog. There were many nights of crying and screaming at God to make me straight and then there were nights I loved being “gay” because it meant I had no walls up and I was just myself. Never in my life did I think I would finally find who I am today.
The biggest challenge I can tell you that I faced throughout this whole journey was coming to the conclusion that God could love me, gay and all. I had been taught for so long that homosexuals were going to burn in hell with murders and rapists (yes, this was taught in church by people that would wear angel wings and preach to children). I was asked to leave a position of leading youth at a church because being gay had “an appearance of evil”. There was one man by the name of Brian Briley that I’ll never forget. Whether he approves or not of homosexuality, he certainly loved me and cared for my salvation. He took me under his wing and reminded me that Christ was bigger than any person. He still remains a significant figure in my life even though we haven’t spoken in close to 15 years now.
There will be another blog coming out about the struggle of being a Christian (FIRST) and being a person (SECOND), o yeah and being gay (why does it matter to you?). I’ll dive into the scriptures that through me for a loop, the things I was taught, the questions I still get asked today, as well as the thoughts that were thrown at me even up to this past year. I don’t get angry at people that don’t believe there is a way to be both a Christian and be gay. I get it. If I weren’t gay I probably wouldn’t agree with it either. I have things I make my own judgements on because I don’t deal with them. Unless it’s your “thorn” why would you deal with it? The question/statement I always return these questions and comments with is whether or not these people see God active in my life. I would much rather want to know the answer to that than their opinion of my sexuality.
A fundamental message I want to leave you with is that LOVE is what is most important. You are not called to be a judge or the prosecutor. You are called to be a defender and teacher. People learn so much more by the character in your actions, the walk in your talk, and the being in your behavior. Be someone that defends the underdog, loves the broken and hurt, and truly spreads the message of Christ (which is to LOVE one another as I have loved you). Christ never said, “Hey make sure you have one leg up on that sinner. Remind them every day that I said homosexuals will BURNNNNN (o wait, Christ never mentioned it)”. Instead, Christ says “prove to them that I exist through grace, peace, understanding, forgiveness, patience, teamwork, but above all of this LOVE.”
Thank you for reading! I know I’m long winded and that’s ok! Next blog will be about diving into the thoughts, passages, messages that are often talked about r/t Christianity and being gay. I’d like to at least smash some of the stereotypes if anything!
GOD BLESS YOU!! GO DO GOOD FOR SOMEONE ELSE!!!
***PS – after re-reading this, FIRST I found several grammatical errors and spelling problems (please close your eyes and ignore those! =) I’ll get better). Second, some of the ways I described the things I heard from church “burn in hell” and “homosexuals BURRNNN” felt really HARSH to me. I don’t want it to be offensive as I would never mean for it to be that way but I do want you to feel the message it delivers. It’s hard to hear. I say all of this because I want you to understand the true nature of my heart which is to share good news (not negativity), to love (not hate), and to influence the world in a positive way (not by making you read long blogs with nasty words). MUCH LOVE!