As my childhood entered a big transition phase, I started dealing with it through unhealthy self-reliance. This created a sort of double life as I encountered more difficult situations.
Peers started associating me with the gay community. One time in the locker room, a guy caught my wandering eyes and accused me of looking at him, asking if I was gay.
During my lunch period there was a group of guys who often mimicked the way I spoke. It’s partly why I don’t like my voice to this day.
And, since I had recently moved, I didn’t have close friends yet. You know, the ones who would stand up for me. Or at least divert my attention after the fact. I felt like I needed (had?) to deal with this alone.
Back then, I walked to school — not “cool” for any middle school student. A few times, someone in a car or truck passed me on my walk home and randomly yelled things at me. It was on these walks that I got introduced to the term, “fag.”
Eventually, I found pornography. Honestly, I don’t remember what I typed or why I typed it. But I do remember finding pictures of naked people.
My heart raced. Why was I more interested in the guys?
I started looking for pictures of just guys. Excitement and fear spun within me.
Maybe it was a phase — because I couldn’t be Christian and gay, right?
All I really knew was that I was curious. The naked male body drew me in. And when the excitement wore off, I was left with guilt. And more confusion about what I was doing and why.
Church taught me that looking at females this way was wrong. School told me my hormones were raging.
Why did I have such a strong physical and emotional reaction to these photos of men? Why did I feel the need to hide?
I don’t know why, but I hid. Hid what I was looking at. Hid how I was feeling. Hid the words that were said to me.
I hid it all.
I didn’t know how to talk about it. Didn’t know with whom to talk.
Would there be judgement from church? What would my newly acquired friends think? Self-reliance and emotional baggage to carry became a steady way of life.
I still didn’t want people to know my secrets, so I did the logical thing: I put on the smiley mask around friends, family, and youth group.
Loneliness couldn’t bother me if I kept up my life on the outside.
If I didn’t say I was gay and my life didn’t appear that way, maybe I would stop feeling alone. Maybe the attractions and the awkwardness would vanish, too.
However, this was just the beginning of my double life.
Have you lived a double life with your faith and sexuality? Have you ever merged your double life, or do you feel the need to separate different parts of you? What childhood wounds still carry into today?