Self-hatred is difficult to write about; I have told very few people.
Ever since middle school, I’ve struggled with hating myself. A sentence I’ve said to myself every day of my life since then has been something like “I hate being gay” or “I hate my situation in life.”
It scares me a bit, sharing that information.
So, why am I sharing on such a public platform? Simply because I know I’m not the only one who struggles this way.
When somebody struggles with self-hatred, it’s so easy to feel alone and isolated, and I want my brothers who struggle with this to realize that they are not alone.
Some readers might have some concerns. The first being whether I am suicidal; the answer to that is no. It is a legitimate concern since suicide rates are three times higher among gay men than other people groups, and suicidality is something I did struggle with as a teen.
If this is your struggle, do not feel shame. But please seek professional help. There are so many people who love you, whether you realize it or not.
Another concern some may have is for my mental health, and I want to assure you that I have taken appropriate measures to make sure I am healthy. I meet with a therapist on a regular basis and have proper community support structures in place.
I also want readers to know that there is no shame in seeking the help of a therapist; it is very beneficial.
So, how did I get to this point of self-hatred?
Ever since I was young, I was taught that one of the biggest threats to the church and society was the gay agenda. We heard regular warnings from the pulpit about the gays. We had Christian magazines, books, and radio all saying the same thing.
As a kid, I said a lot of derogatory things about LGBTQ+ people. I cringe at the things I remember saying. When I realized I was gay, all of that hatred that I showed to others turned in on myself.
That realization drove me to reparative therapy.
The logic makes sense: I hate gay people, I am gay — thus, I need to not be gay.
The problem is that reparative therapy did not improve my situation; it made it worse. Because of that experience, it’s even hard to let others pray for me, especially if they put their hand on my shoulder. It brings back so many memories of people “praying the gay away.”
Reparative therapy drove me to self-destructive habits such as cigarettes, inactivity, and unhealthy eating.
How does one escape this downward spiral? Not easily. Imagine untying a massive knot of rope that has been set outside for years. It is not going to happen quickly.
But things are getting better. I haven’t smoked in over six months, the longest I have ever gone. I ride my bike almost every day for my commute. My eating habits have improved tremendously.
I see these steps as signs that my mind is now changing, that I am beginning to enjoy life.
How am I escaping this self-hatred? Firstly, by believing the most basic and important theological truth of all time: Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.
Feelings can lie. I felt that being gay was enough for God to hate me. But that is not what the Bible tells me.
Even the greatest enemy of God can be shown the greatest amount of love from God through Jesus (Romans 5).
Secondly, I’m escaping self-hatred by realizing that I am not alone. That I have been united with Christ (Romans 6) and adopted into God’s family where I can call God my father (Romans 8).
And thirdly — probably most controversially — I’m escaping self-hatred by enjoying the culture created by non-straight people.
I know some readers will immediately think I am changing my sexual ethic and that I am promoting sexual immorality by embracing some aspects of non-straight culture. I assure you that I am not. I am still celibate, and I do not see that changing any time soon.
There are many things associated with LGBTQ+ culture, especially gay male culture: fashion, cooking, music, drama, interior decorating, etc. Obviously, those things are not inherently gay.
But as a result of culture associating those things with gay people — and I enjoy many of those things — I avoided doing the things I love so I wouldn’t be seen as gay.
Now, I am doing the social things that I enjoy. I have been dressing nicer and enjoying different styles of clothing. I have been getting into interior decorating, which I love! And I have been enjoying cooking and the creativity it brings. Today, I made turkey burgers and a caprese salad.
Basically I’ve become a walking Queer Eye episode.
For the first time, I think, I am enjoying what life can be like. And it is a wonderful experience.
Have you struggled with self-hatred because of your sexuality? How have you seen victory over self-hatred, and how has the struggle continued?