Author’s note: This piece is part 2 of this series – If you haven’t read the first half of this essay, I encourage you to check it out!

As Published in Church Street Freedom Press, April 28, 2005

Thankfully, people stopped asking me if I was sure if I was going to heaven. But then, I had stopped going to church long before I graduated high school. As a teenager, I would have answered quickly and positively. But as a young adult, things were different. I couldn’t be gay and Christian. But I had to do something.

After years of struggling with the fact that I was a Christian and sexually attracted to other men, I decided to change my strategy. I couldn’t have the ‘gay demon’ cast out of me, and I couldn’t pretend like the attractions weren’t there (especially when I saw Orlando Bloom on screen for the first time).

So I went back to praying. I cried some more, and I agonized like I never had before. This time, it was a different kind of prayer. God knew how to fix me. I didn’t want to be damned. I wanted the person that God has for me! Please, Lord, send me someone that will keep me from falling into sin!

He did. And because God has a sense of humor, he sent the very person I needed.

His name is Curtis.

Curtis entered my life at the height of the final battle, when I was at the ultimate crisis. Do I choose my sexuality or my faith? And after a few more months of turmoil and battles, the patience of this saint, this man of God, finally paid off. He knew he was in love with me, and I even acknowledged an unbelievably strong connection.

But I couldn’t call it love. And I sure as hell couldn’t ever kiss a man.

Somehow, I knew that if I ever locked lips with a man that it would mean that I have finally given myself to being gay. So, no kissing allowed. It was simple, I thought. I wouldn’t kiss him.

That didn’t last more than a couple of months.

Our love was sealed with a kiss that was as earth-shattering as it was spontaneous. In that instant, I knew and accepted the truth with complete clarity. The struggle was not whether to choose the passion of my faith or the passion of my heart. It was whether I could embrace both.

Somehow, it made sense. I heard that voice again. You’re gaaaay, it said. But this time I was able to say, “You’re damned right I am.” Suddenly, the old words that were so violent in their condemnation were stripped of their power. I am not an abomination. I am not depraved. I am not steeped in sin and I have eternal hope, and I am most certainly not going to hell.

Is the Bible wrong? Not necessarily. My interpretation was. As a fundamentalist, I would pick and choose some verses to obey, and ignore others. I accepted the verse in Leviticus that said gay sex was an abomination. I ignored the verse that eating pork was an abomination.

I soon learned that the problem wasn’t whether or not the Book itself was wrong. It was that I had turned the book, or rather my idea of the book, into my god. This ‘book-god’ was a terrible god, filled with hate, rage, and bitterness. It was a fickle and jealous god that would send any devotee to a fiery pit in hell for the slightest transgression. And the ‘book-god’ would even create a homosexual only to be damned by the sexuality that it gave them. What a horrible ‘god’ indeed.

It was then that I realized that this ‘god’ was not the creator of the universe, but one I had created in my own image—an image of self-pity and self-loathing. It hated me even more than I hated myself. I also realized that there was a true God who did love me more than I could have imagined. It was He that took on the form of a man and was the ultimate example of love and grace. It was this man, Christ, who loved the world so much that he gave his life for all. He was the clearest image of the true nature of the God that gave me life. He didn’t condemn me. Why did I condemn myself?

The battle is finally over. I now wear its scars with pride. Every tear, every moment of self-pity, and every vile word of disgust that the fundamentalist in my head hurled against the gay man inside my body is worn as a badge of honor. It was a long battle that began before I hit puberty. In the end, it was love that won. Two men gave everything they had so that I could be all God created me to be. One died on a cross, and the other bore his cross as he waited for me to realize how much I truly loved him. And both are the most intimate loves of my life.

And yes, I’m sure I’m going to heaven.