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I wanted to crawl under the chair and remain there until church was over. Wishing a hole in the ground would open up and swallow me was rather futile – already prayed for that a couple of times, but it still hadn’t happened – so instead I let my long, lean body sink further to the edge of the seat and hoped, that I that way could go unnoticed by Pastor Dominic. But no matter how small I tried to make myself, I didn’t escape his gaze…
“I see some of you are burden with guilt,” he boomed from his high perk at the front. “That guilt is God telling you, that you’re living a life of sin…!”
I tuned him out after that, but I could still feel every eye in the room turn to me. Yeah, look at the obvious sinner, people, I mentally snorted and suddenly wished that I was the one standing on the podium. Then I’d kindly remind them, that it was easy to see the speck in your brother’s eye, but not the log in your own.
I snuck a glance at the couple sitting a few rows in front of us. Mr. and Mrs. Holt were very much the typical conservative couple, with not an inch too much skin showing and giving a tenth of everything they had to the church. Even now they were smiling and nodding as if they didn’t have a care in the world. But go back 10 months or so, they were the hot topic of every gossiping lip in Tri Stade. She was a 17-year-old high school student and he was a recently widowed banker – old enough to be her father!
Oh, and she was pregnant!
She was, of course, deemed the whore of Babylon and he the freaking antichrist, but apparently it was all good now because they were married. Happy as can be and forgiving as everyone was, they had accepted them back in the fold--- despite him being a cheating asshole and her being utterly miserable in their relationship. But God forbid if she got a divorce, because---
Now, I wasn’t making fun of God or the Bible or anything. I firmly believed that there was a God, but I highly doubted that he made his laws for us to be utterly miserable. And no, I’m not an expert, but---
Would God really create a world so full of colors and wonders just for man to paint it black and white?
I remembered a conversation I’d been forced to have with Pastor Dominic at my grandma’s demand. He’s sat me down and told me all about the wrong in my way. That if I continued down this path, I would be going to hell.
Like this was something I chose to be like I chose what kind of socks to were!
I didn’t choose to be like this. I didn’t just wake up one morning and decided to be gay. It grew inside me. While the other boys liked watching tits and talked about getting pussy, I would steal a glance at the male actor, impressed by his strong build and powerful muscles. I knew I wasn’t like everyone else and being constantly told that it was a sin – that I would go to hell – didn’t make me want to step forward either. It wasn’t until my grandmother caught me watching gay porn that she brought me before the church, and they wanted me to confess. To tell them all that I was sick and not right in the head.
That I was gay…!
Everything after that had been a nightmare. Once I’d confessed my “sin” I was supposed to be free and get this new life, but it didn’t happen. My urge to watch porn was diminished for a while, but that’s about all it did – so to speak. The other thing that that congregation led to was everyone in town finding out about my “condition” and hence the bullying started.
And oh boy, was I at the end of a lot of butt jokes!
But if I was being honest, it wasn’t as much the daily comments or physical abuse or even the cruel pranks they would play on me that bothered me. No, what really bothered me was the way people started treating me like I had leprosy. All my friends turned their backs on me and pretty much isolated me. I went from having friends all over the place to being utterly and completely alone…
And damn did that sting!
To see all the people who’d encouraged me to always be true to myself, and to keep going even if things got tough and promised to be there for me no matter what--- they just bailed on me. They now looked at me like I was some sort of dirt under their shoes. They didn’t text me back and if I called it would go straight to voicemail. Years of memories and friendship just---
No, I definitely didn’t just choose this and honestly, I’d give anything to be “normal”. To be like everyone else and have the same dreams as everyone else. To be accepted for who I was and be a part of society.
But I wasn’t.
And I couldn’t change it. My grandmother said it was because I lacked a strong male figure in my life and that’s why I became gay. But I highly doubt that being raised by a single mother made me gay. Heck, give me a strong woman like her, and I’d give this straight life a shot! But despite there probably being a million other strong women out there, I’d never want any of them because they didn’t have what I wanted.
Not too obviously I leaned my head into my chest, hoping to get a quick nap. But the second my head lulled forward, the woman next to me jabbed her elbow into my side, making me jerk awake. I glanced down and met the same honey-colored eyes I and my mom had. Although my grandmother’s eyes had dulled a bit over the years and weren’t as bright as they used to be, they could still install the fear of God in me. She was a strict, Christian black woman, and living under her roof meant I followed her rules. She’d lost Grandpa in the war before I was born and when mom came home – pregnant with me! – Nana didn’t do what I’d heard several other parents do in this town (to cut their kids off and pretend they didn’t exist). No, my Nana took me in and while mom got a degree in business, I lived with my grandmother in her house at the edge of the small town.
And because of that, I had an immense amount of respect for Nana, knowing she did whatever it took for us to have the best life we could. She was strong and struggled every day, working as a nurse at the hospital, and I knew she loved me--- in her own way. Our only trouble was, that we didn’t have the same definition of love. Whereas I believed that love was showed in gentle acts and kind words, Nana believed that blind obedience was the only way to show love.
Which recently made for a lot of tension in the house.
You see, Nana wanted me to drop this “gay nonsense” and stop “acting up”. She wanted me to grow up and become like everyone else: get an education, find a loving wife (preferably half my age, apparently!), and make many babies! I did try and explain to her that it didn’t really work like that and---
Well, it never ended well…
Nana made a gesture that warned me not to fall asleep, despite most of the congregation struggling to keep their eyes open from the two hours speech Pastor Dominic was giving. I straightened in my seat and wondered if there was any way to sleep with my eyes open…
“Please join me in prayer,” Pastor Dominic finally said about an hour later and you could practically hear the sigh of relief that swept through the gathering. I sighed as well and folded my hands obediently.
Yeah, thank you God I ever told anyone about the voice in my head…