I am glad that I am gay.
That may be confusing and surprising for some of you to read. Before jumping to any conclusions, hear me out.
If you knew me in high school, you wouldn’t recognize me today (literally you wouldn’t recognize me because I am uber-attractive now). My personality has gone through dramatic shifts in the last eight years. There are definitely elements of me that have remained fairly stable; I’m still (generally) an intense person, I still get super bogged down in details, I still like to over-analyze things, I still like to take charge of a group, and I still don’t know how to be self-disciplined when it comes to healthy habits (I always say that I’m going to *work* on this, but I still find myself being sleep-deprived and never eating breakfast). Those of you who know me are probably chuckling at my own description and are also probably inserting your own.
But there are also parts of me that exist now that used to never exist. Why the difference?
Thanks to God’s grace: I plunged into processing my sexuality, and this totally changed me. Before admitting that I was gay, there wasn’t exactly a real Tony. There was a fake Tony. I wore a mask. We all know this metaphor of wearing masks —- we shape our behavior in certain ways so people will have a particular perception of us. But for me, it wasn’t intentional. I didn’t realize that I was doing this; I had convinced myself that this fake me was the real me.
If you would look at my life in high school, you would clearly see where my priorities laid: grades and being involved in every possible club or activity. I had (still somewhat have) an achievement complex, and I poured this into building a perfect college resume. I was that annoying kid who complained when he got a 94% (I should have gotten those right! What was I thinking?) while everyone else was happy that they got a B. I cried once to a teacher because of one reading quiz that was a 60% (my first F), and this quiz was worth seriously like 0.0001% of my grade.
What was going on? Why was this stuff so important to me?
I had to have something glamorous to define me because the actual (gay) me was not glamorous. I wanted people to look at me and think, “that’s the really overly-involved smart guy; we all think he’s awesome.”
But relationships based on impressing people with your achievements aren’t really relationships. People in relationship with me were in relationships with a bunch of As on a report card and not really me. Pretty boring friendship if you ask me. And it showed. My friendships were fairly shallow. They were solely based on intellectual conversation or a work partnership to accomplish some sort of task. I could not have deep, intimately connecting relationships with people because there was no person with which to have a relationship. I was just a report card, a list of achievements, a college resume. Since I didn’t know me, other people weren’t going to know me.
(Side note: I’m writing this in a Starbucks right now and the barista is super attractive, and it’s very distracting….my thoughts are clean right now ….it’s just distracting.)
Then it all came crashing down.
Long story short: I realized a lot of people didn’t like me despite my impressive accolades. I remember the event vividly. I posted this ridiculously judgmental post on Myspace about how I was disgusted with any Christian who would call themselves a Christian yet see the movie 300. (I’m not kidding, I seriously said this). A girl in my class confronted me, and for some reason, it all slapped me in the face: I was judgmental, I thought I was better than others because of my accomplishments, and no one really liked “me.” On top of this, I started receiving rejection letters from colleges (looking back on it, I have no idea why I was convinced I would get into some of those colleges).
My academic and extracurricular accomplishments suddenly felt completely worthless. I realized my drive behind all of these was to get people to like me, but it wasn’t working. They didn’t like this Tony who was obsessed with his grades and who exhausted himself with commitments.
With this artificial me being chipped away, I started to see the real me. I think this is partly why I started to admit I was gay my freshman year of college —- I had no other me to distract myself with, no other way to construct my life to generate a form of shallow affirmation from others.
Unfortunately, seeing the real me involved digesting acutely painful feelings. — I had to work through all the negative messages I had heard about gay people, all the lies, all the feelings that I was unlovable by others. I could no longer run from these. Thankfully, God put people in my life to help me through this process, but there have been (and still will be) incredibly painful moments.
But those painful moments molded me for the better, and it was absolutely necessary that I went through them. The only way I was ever going to accept myself, to be myself, to stop chasing artificial means for people to like me, was if I faced my homosexuality head on and surpassed the hurdle that I was unlovable. Otherwise, I would never be able to see me. Think of it this way: There could be an absolutely beautiful painting, but if there was an unattended splotch of red paint on it, we don’t see the beauty in the painting, we see the red splotch. I could not see the beauty of who I was because all I could see was “you’re gay and no one loves you because of it.” As long as that red splotch is there, we’re probably going to hide that painting and put a different one up.
Now that I’ve begun to move past this negative message, the red splotch has shrunk significantly, God has allowed me to marvel at just how beautifully He has created me and just how much the Holy Spirit has been transforming me into someone very unique for His Church. But part of that transformation, the refining of my soul, was only possible because of the unique challenges I faced due to my sexuality.
For instance, my ability to empathize with people, to try and understand their perspective has only been made possible because I’m gay. I know what it’s like to just wish people unconditionally loved and accepted you, I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t belong. And this has compelled me to always try and include others and understand their perspective. I have deeper, more intimate relationships with people because of this. We don’t know the story of others, we don’t know what hurt or pain they’re going through, and the only way we can help them is if we try and reach out — to show them that they can trust us and that they will always be loved.
I fail at this all time, but I do know that I am probably 20,000 times (I used a rigorous formula to accurately calculate this) better at this than when I was high school. And I am absolutely nowhere near as judgmental as I used to be. I have truly seen the Holy Spirit refine my life because of the experiences I’ve gone through from being gay. Even though God didn’t make me gay, He has been sanctifying me through this whole process of pursuing faithful stewardship of my sexuality, equipping me to better serve and impact others.
And that’s why I’m glad that I’m gay, at least in that regard.