I’m Rupert, a grateful believer in Jesus Christ, western North Carolina native, and avid crafter, reader, and movie watcher. I’m married to my high school sweetheart (who is even more introverted than me). I look forward to seeing how God leads me onward in all my relationships and how his blessings will continue to flow.
Another Pride Month gone; another year I didn’t participate. I’ve never been one for any kind of parade, but part of me believes participating in Pride means I have accepted the part of myself that remained hidden for so long.
Raised in a conservative Christian household, I always heard so many more of “don’t do this” than anything else growing up. Don’t smoke or drink alcohol. Don’t celebrate Halloween or read Harry Potter. Don’t use swear words or take the Lord’s name in vain. Guys don’t marry guys; they only marry girls.
While it was easy to fall in line for most of these, I felt my heart questioning the reason behind that last don’t during puberty.
I found it easy to agree with the purity culture of my church, treating girls and women as sisters in Christ. Don’t stare or objectify. Be a knight of honor, not a beast of lust. If you don’t marry her, someone else will, and you wouldn’t want to have been inappropriate with someone else’s spouse, right?! Of course not!
In youth group we held hands to pray in a circle, and whenever a hidden guy crush stood beside me, I felt different. When a cute guy put his hand on my lower back to squeeze past me in a crowded room, my stomach did flips. I first cuddled with guys and girls while camping out with high school friends, and how that awakened my need for physical touch.
I can’t count the number of times I prayed for God to make me straight. To take away this desire for intimacy with guys.
I struggled with wandering eyes in the locker room before and after gym, and in the dressing room for theatre shows or singing competitions.
Afraid someone would question why I was looking. Or encourage it.
Even while attending Celebrate Recovery, I found it difficult to be honest about my struggles. I felt fear of being cast out and ostracized in a place where everyone is welcome, no matter their hurts, habits, or hangups.
But CR also taught me a valuable lesson: I am not defined by my struggles. I am defined by my relationship with Jesus.
Every testimony I ever heard at CR began with: “My name is __ and I am a believer in Jesus Christ. I struggle with . . .”
You are not your struggles, and they do not define you. Just like Paul, we all have a struggle that reminds us from where our strength comes:
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV)
As summer moves from June to July and the rainbows move from storefronts to clearance, I will continue to be grateful for my struggles and the kindness they have taught me, the friends they have introduced me to, and the path forward they build to give God the glory he deserves.
For now, I will focus on being the love of Christ — unconditional.
How do you find gratitude or pride for your sexuality? Where have you seen weakness turn to strength in any area of your life?
As a South Carolina boy who grew up “in the buckle of the Bible Belt” I can identify with so much that you experienced, Rupert. Thank you for sharing this part of your story. Thank you for the words “we all have a struggle that reminds us from where our strength comes” and for guiding our minds to God and his unconditional love for us in Jesus. Thank you for your emphasis on THANKS! The concept of being thankful for my sexuality and sexual struggles is definitely an area for my personal growth.
Thanks for this post-Pride post, Rupert. Finding gratitude (even pride) for my sexuality has been such a vital part of my growth, especially since cofounding YOB. In line with Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning,” I think it’s vital we find purpose in all our struggling, even suffering, sexuality or otherwise, for a way through this life. On a grandiose scale, helping start a community like this has been huge for me. And on a less grandiose but still vital scale, finding a renewed appreciation (and not shame) for masculine connection has also been huge in my life. Whether it’s men’s groups or one-on-one connection times, I’m glad I’m in touch with this desire and need to connect with other men in healthy ways. My sexuality has certainly influenced this desire and need.
As I already told you, I’m glad you sent me this post when you did. Hope this isn’t the last time you write for us!
Love it, thank you so much for sharing.