I normally like to give my two cents at the beginning of my blog. Especially when I have a guest blogger. But I decided that no introduction is necessary.
I will say that MOST people who have contacted me in support and those who need validation are Christians and others of Faith. There is a common thread here. I am witnessing a HUGE amount of Faith-based people asking for help who have been ashamed to ask before. I have also learned that the quickest way to healing and restoration is to help others who need healing and restoration.
OK…back to my guest Jeff.
We all have a story, here is a small part of his.
Hello everyone! I, like most of you, have been avidly following this blog for the past few months thoroughly engrossed in this truly amazing story. Reading about Chet’s trials and listening to his triumphs prompted me to reach out to him in support. I have recently shared my story with Chet both through text and in person, and was delighted when he asked me to share with you folks as well, via this wonderful blog. So here goes, bear with me on this, I am nowhere near, nor ever will be as interesting a writer a Chet but here is my attempt at doing so!
I also come from a very religious background. I grew up a small town in southeastern Idaho. Prime mormon country. My entire family is mormon, all my neighbors were mormon, my bus driver was mormon, her cat was mormon, pretty much everyone that I knew and loved… was mormon. I loved the small town feeling, the sense of community that I felt. There was just one teeny tiny problem in my little world that I loved so much, and so desperately wanted to be a part of. You see… I had a secret. A disgusting, repulsive, horrible secret, and there was no possible way that any of these people who I loved with all of my heart, could possibly accept me if they only knew.
It truly is amazing the power of a single word. The sheer weight and gravity behind three letters. Gay. So let me tell you what this small three-letter, one syllable word meant to me. Shame, pain, embarrassment, disgusting, abomination, repulsive, unholy, wrong, degrading, subhuman, mental illness, pedophile, oh how the list goes on and on. These are the beliefs that I was raised with. This is what I thought homosexuality meant. Not all of that was directly taught, but it sure as hell was implied through the speech and actions of those around me and most painfully my peers. I do not blame them directly, these thoughts are all to often considered the norm in many circles, in particular the conservative and religious. These feelings festering inside lead to so much misery and pain. There is a reason that homosexual and transgendered youth are at a much higher risk for suicide and homelessness. They are told that what they are feeling is an abomination in the sight of God. That they need to change the unchangeable. Please if you take nothing else from this, I need you to understand that homosexuality cannot be cured. You cannot pray it away. You can not flood it out with tears. And you cannot place a band-aid on it hoping that it will heal. I have spent countless nights curled up into a ball completely sobbing, praying to anyone who would listen. Pleading with God to take it away. I certainly did not ask for this burden.
I truly wish that everyone would be able to live just one day in the life of a gay youth. Feel the feelings that they are experiencing, see what they have to deal with. The number one problem in our world today is ignorance. Be it about different races, cultures, religions, sexual orientation, or beliefs. How can we accept something if we don’t even know who it is, how it works, or what they are feeling. It is human nature to reject and fear that which is not like ourselves. We are all guilty of it.
So where does that leave us? People like Chet are getting the ball rolling. Sharing personal stories and enlightening others to their experiences. Putting a face on this tiny three-letter word with such huge stigma and meaning. Chet is still exactly the same person that he was last year when no one knew he was gay. So why should your perception about him change? It shouldn’t.
My whole direction that I was trying to accomplish with this post was (a) shedding more light on this incredibly sensitive topic and (b) letting people know what they can do to make this ugly situation more bearable for those living with it.
The turning point in my life was when I started meeting people and coming out to people who truly did not care that I was gay. They saw me, ALL of me, and loved me. Not an “I love you, even though you are gay” kind of thing, but simply “I love you.” They whole heartedly believed that nothing was wrong with me. My whole life I have attached what I had perceived as an ugly three-letter word to myself. If of these wonderful people could see past it, why couldn’t I? I was no longer Gay Jeff. I was just Jeff. The same person I have been my whole life. I was no longer letting my sexuality define me. It is a part of me, but it certainly isn’t all of me. These people saved my life. They made me feel like I was human again, that I was worth loving. I owe them everything.
So when someone shares with you that they are gay. They need to hear that it is ok, that they are loved, and they are still the same person. They do not need to hear about how you feel about it. You have every right to your own beliefs about homosexuality and no one is asking you to change them, but trust me when I say that they have already felt more pain then you can imagine regarding this. They do not need to hear how you think it is a sin, or about how they are making a poor choice and that you don’t agree with it. That will not help them in the least. And please do not threaten them with Hell, they are already facing Hell on a day-to-day basis. Remember, they are choosing to share with you this incredibly painful and personal thing. They are entrusting you with their fragile self-esteem and feelings. Please do not shatter that. Love them. Do not simply tolerate them. You tolerate a cold or a bad meal, not a human being. Embrace them for who they are. All of who they are. We are all on this beautiful planet together, we must share this wonderful gift of life, lifting others up. Not tearing them down.
“Let me be perfectly clear: I love you. I will always love you. Since being gay is part of who you are, I love that you’re gay” – A loving father
Thank you Jeff. I love you my friend. I am honored to know you. Maybe I’ll sing at your wedding or something. Your story is not over. Just another chapter or volume is in order.