Others of Us
And then I found other people.
I sat down at my computer, lonely and desperate, and with this empty, howling need inside me. I’d never done this before. I’d never looked for other people like me, never searched for them.
I’d assumed they didn’t exist, I’d assumed if they did there would be so few I could never find them, and if I did, what then? I didn’t want there to be other gay people, much less other gay Christians. They were temptations, and besides, I wasn’t like them. I wasn’t romantically attracted to men, I didn’t need to deal with this part of me. But then I was, and then this part of me roared to the surface, and I couldn’t do this alone anymore. I wasn’t sure if I could do this at all anymore.
I’d had doubts before, quiet, lurking ones I would hush with a pious, nervous shrug, and the first doubt always struck me when I looked up at stained glass windows.
Because there weren’t any gay saints.
The whores had Mary Magdalene, the murderers had St. Paul, who watched the robes while Stephen was stoned to death. Even slave traders had John Newton, and skeptics had CS Lewis and St Thomas (the best of the apostles, the bravest one, who said “then we’ll die with Christ in Jerusalem”).
Who did we have?
Who's example was I supposed to follow?
Who had sinned like us, and had still been loved by God?
Was it even possible?
I’d never doubted that before, not really. Of course it was possible (look at my little verses, look at my little progression of beliefs). It had to be possible.
But now I could feel my phone itching in my pocket, and it was always at the back of my mind that right now, right there, if I wanted (and I did want to, I always wanted to) I could have the whole gay world at my fingertips. Or at least it felt that way.
And I wasn’t sure anymore that this other thing, that being a tidy, good Christian, that being any kind of a Christian at all, was really possible anymore.
I needed to know.
So for the first time, I typed in “gay Christian”, and I hoped. And I hit enter.
And they appeared. I found them.
I found Us.
I found Matt Jones, posting at Gay Subtlety under the alias “Jordan” and then on his own blog, under his own name, out and proud and celibate and funny and vulnerable.
I found Joey Prevey, posting as Steve Gershom, literate and flowing and broken and true.
I found Gregg Webb, nervous and questioning but deeply committed, Orthodox with a capital O, invoking the wisdom of glittering, almond-eyed icons and never denying the constant burden of his daily sacrifice. That same sacrifice I was committed to making.
I heard through the grapevine about Wesley Hill and Gregory Cole, read articles by them and about them, and slowly came to realize, there were many, many of us out there. A whole community of people struggling with the same thing that I was.
And I read, and I read, and I read, and it feels like an electric wire has just been switched on inside of me. Because these people are just. Like. Me. Raised with the same faith, with the same rich and loving families, with this beast locked inside them. Staggering through life, and vulnerable about the pain of it, honest about the struggle, the shame, the mistakes (not as big as mine, their mistakes, but still—). And they were doing it. They were surviving.
And it feels like maybe this really is possible. Maybe I’m not so alone, not such a freak.
But that feeling fades.
Because these blogs, all of them, every one, are as much about loneliness as they are about being gay.
That feeling is tucked away into even the most surface level and flattering news articles, and it thuds, it reverberates, it chants and howls through the entries of every blog that I read. Loneliness and need, wrapped together in every one of us. All of us desperately alone, and desperate to be anything else. And it wasn’t escapable.
They had tried. Every one of them. They’d invested in communities, they’d invested in friendships, joined communes, done everything their power to find a place to belong.
And they all dried up. For a season they’d be satisfied, things would work, but then they would have to move for work or grad school, their friend would get married, their mission posting would end.
And they were alone again.
With no end in sight.
And I would sit, alone, in a filthy basement just off Ravenna, and I would read. And every time I picked up my computer, it was like picking up the phone to call an old friend, like answering the door to let them in. Because no one had ever known me like this, no one had ever spoken so clearly to this part of my soul.
But I also felt sick to my stomach.
Because every time I would read about their lives, about how much it hurt, about how hard it was just to be them, to just to keep getting out of bed and opening the door every morning, I could nod along and agree.
I was lonely, I was scared. I could feel anguish and despair walking up to my door every time I opened my eyes.
But then they would talk about how good God was, and how much he sustained them, and it would feel like an axe cracking open my chest.
Because God wasn’t that good to me.
Because God wasn’t sustaining me.
Because I was drowning and God just watched.
I cried every day then.
I cried because I was lonely, I cried because I was ashamed, I cried because I couldn’t think of anything else to do and the future was stretching out in front of me and I was terrified that I would have to live in it.
I fantasized about dying young, I was physically disgusted by the idea of living past 35, afraid I would even be asked to keep going after 30.
I couldn’t do this. I was wretched, and miserable, and weak, and everything that was happening was my fault, but even these people, these men who were clearly better than me, who were doing their best and trying so hard—I didn’t want their lives either. There was no relief there, none of the cravings that were howling inside me had been removed from their lives, much less satisfied. Just somehow they endured, because they were stronger than me. I didn't want to endure anymore. I didn't think I could.
I couldn’t do this, and I didn’t know if I wanted to.
But I did know. A quiet voice inside of me answered, insisted, knew.
I didn’t want to do this.
But I didn’t have another option.