This was a difficult one to write. Why? It was so long ago, and things have changed so much since then, but at the same time, it is part of my story. So many out there are taking their lives, TWO more just today, and it's just not worth it. I hope people can read this and realize that there can be hope, no matter how bad it gets.
So how did I get to this point? The idea of actually taking my life was not even in my blood or psyche, but it became a viable option that night, one that would possibly give me the freedom I had been looking for, for so many years. That's how low it got.
Up until that very day, I had spent many years, faithfully and hopefully engaging in ex-gay ministries, as they provided a sane answer to my very serious problem: my emotional and sexual attraction to other men. Their message was clear, God loves you. God loves you too much to let you live in sin. They were very clear to stress a certain point, being attracted to other men was not a sin, however acting on it was. But it did not stop there: the attraction itself was evidence that something was seriously wrong with my psychology, my development, and the person I had become. I was broken, but they re-assured me that every other human out there was broken. While that was true on some level, about the brokenness of humanity, what I failed to recognize on a conscious level, was the fact that, while people are broken, they all have basic needs: food, shelter, water, and of course, to be loved. I don't think the Bible itself could be any clearer, in that "it is not good for man to be alone." The editors in chief of ex-gay ministries add an interesting subtext to this verse: "… unless you are gay."
Up until this point, the older I got, the more pronounced my desire for companionship became, as I crushed hard on friends, on strangers, and with each feeling, which usually excites a person and makes them feel alive, with every crush, I was reminded that I was broken and wrong. The longer I engaged in these ministries, the bigger of a toll this took on me. I didn't even know it, actually. I was for the most part, pretty OK, and I was living a life on the outside where none of my friends knew I was going through this, however the friends I made in these ministries, we all shared a common bond, that life was a struggle, and we were all diseased. We were defining ourselves based on who we were not, rather than who we were. The mixing of faith, Jesus, the Bible, with this very dangerous and dehumanizing way of living, created an even bigger problem, if you can imagine.
At the same time, I was a corner-stone in my family and I was very active in my church. I was involved in service, I had great friends, I was the go-to guy for everyone. My family, broken and bruised, was helpless (as far as I believed) without me. I had a bright future ahead of me, and everyone's hopes and dreams for me were made pronounced on a daily basis. And I fought the good fight, because as far as I knew, God brought these ministries to me, to show me that healing was possible from this "thing" that plagued me through childhood and adolescence.
I was invited to a church fundraiser in LA, for a church I wasn't a regular at, but knew one or two faces, and for the most part, it was how church dinners go. Table with friends, mediocre food, speeches, fundraising, prayers. I had been to many of these before, but this one was different. My friends around me were moving on in their lives: girlfriends, fiances, interest in their careers, growing in faith. I looked back at the last few years, and these things seemed further and further way from me. My faith had disintegrated to a pile of dust, while I worked hard at gluing the tiny cinders of what was left over, using an expired bottle of Elmer's Wood glue, in order to take what little faith I had left to the sunday school classes I would teach, and the people I would talk to. Even my friends who weren't Christian, I started to understand more where they were coming from, but I had been so brainwashed, that nothing else but what I knew was a viable option. Combine that with years of forced reparative therapy and an intrinsic belief that your core human desires are in fact completely broken and by only an act of grace, if not from years of dedication and commitment to practices of therapy fasting and prayer, could any of these things be fixed, I was probably going no where. My life was a mistake, and I was not going to be healed, for not only was I still a homosexual, the feelings were only intensifying. I had no judgment for other gay people, as I believe God was merciful, and that no one knows the heart but God, but for some reason, it just was not an option for me.
While this sounds very dramatic, I ask you to remember that dark time in your life, and stand with me in solidarity for a moment. But believe me, this memory is not one I like to return to, so it has taken some effort to stand in solidarity with myself.
Like a house of cards, which takes 100x as long to put together than it does to come apart, I started breaking down, at an alarming rate, while eating a piece of overcooked chicken, sitting next to one of my good friends. I excused myself, got in my car, got on the freeway, and started driving home. It was true, anger and sadness like I never felt before had completely enveloped me, and it occurred to me at that moment, that there was no answer. There hadn't been an answer. I was wrong, I was at a dinner surrounded by everything I was supposed to be, however, I was none of those things.
I went home with the sole intention of ending my life. I had nothing to live for, I was a mistake. I held a bottle of pills in my hand, and a bottle of hard liquor on the table, I knew that I could possibly get away with this, living so far from other neighbors, no one would even know I was there until someone bothered to realize I hadn't returned a phonecall in weeks. As I opened the vile, I had a strong notion to call a friend. I called a friend of mine who had been in a position like this before, and told him, I was going to kill myself and I didn't know what to do. He said, go to the hospital. It was an order. I was a zombie, with no will of my own, I listened to my friend and drove myself to the hospital and announced at the front desk, that I was going to kill myself and I needed help. This was the first and only time in my entire life, the notion of ending it all had entered my head, but it was so real and palpable, it was the only thing that made sense, to make this mistake of an existence go away.
As I lay there in quarantine, with a catheter in my arm, with the strong florescent lights suffocating my vision, I heard a voice.
Maybe it was God, or maybe it was Cher, straight out of Moonstruck, bitch-slapping me in the face with a cold hard "Snap Out Of It!!" I felt a nagging voice in my soul:
"Is it really that serious?"
"Yes" I replied
"That you're gay. Do you think I give a damn."
"That you're gay? Look at your life, you've been on hold. What are you doing"
I had no answer.
"Your life is worth more alive gay than it will ever be dead. You are loved regardless, no matter what you choose."
I had no words.
"Your life is worth SO MUCH MORE than all this."
Oh by the way, this conversation was between me and possibly God, still not sure, maybe it was with myself. Maybe it was just what I've always wanted to hear, never heard it, and I finally had the balls to tell it to myself. Maybe it was the parent inside me. But it was a dialogue that changed the course of my life. For the first time, the whole ridiculousness of what I had put myself through started to become clear. It was a big fat lie. Like a rushing wind, a pair of shit colored sunglasses got blown off my face, and I saw the world in color for the first time in I don't know how long. I started feeling lighter and lighter, as this truth permeated my head, and seeped into every cell in my body. I was alive.
Having not slept a wink through the night, I took the sweetest most restful nap I ever had at that point. I woke up and decided to cut all ties with the ex-gay ministries I had been a part of, with the exception of a few friends. And while most people with a born-again experience go to church, I went to the house of an attractive jewish boy who I had befriended, and after some conversation, had my very first kiss with a man, and let me tell you, it was wonderful. I felt human for the first time, I felt alive. It was the beginning, the beginning of life for me.
Years later, I write this, often uncomfortable to revisit such a difficult place, and while life does not get easier, in fact, there is a lot of pain in coming out, in finding love, in losing love, in living life as a whole person who is no longer allowing himself to sit in the side-lines. While there is pain, there is also great joy, and gratitude, and let me tell you, it does get better. It gets so… much… fucking… better.
I write this, remembering the many gay youth who have ended their lives, reminding those who are thinking to do the same, because you only have one life, and you'll never know unless you live another day.