Growing Up Blind (part 4, Born Again)
Things became more complicated in the middle of my senior year of high school when I became a born-again Christian. I had gone to church all my life, but mainly because my parents required me to do so. At a church service on New Year’s Eve of 1985 I decided that I wasn’t doing a very good job of running my life and that I should surrender it to Jesus and let him have control. At the time I didn’t know that many Christians considered a homosexual lifestyle to be sinful.
My senior year passed quickly, and in the fall of 1986 I began my freshman year at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana. I quickly became actively involved in a campus Christian fellowship, and I made a lot of great new friends.
Being a seven-hour drive away from home seems to have helped me finally to admit the truth to myself and others. Just two weeks into my freshman year, I told Mark, an upperclassman from the Christian group, about my sexuality. I wrote, “We had a really good talk. I told him all about my past.” I had finally told someone, but I wasn’t ready to admit the truth to my journal yet.
Through conversations with Mark and other Christians I became convinced that having homosexual desires was not sinful, but acting on them would be. I felt horrible feelings of guilt and shame when I allowed myself to entertain sexual thoughts; I began praying that God would help me to change, or at the very least, to have the strength to resist sexual temptation. I read all the information I could find on the subject, and over the course of my freshman year I wrote more and more openly about my struggle with homosexual desires.
At one point, Mark introduced me to a woman he knew who was similarly conflicted about her sexuality. It was a huge event in my life: For the first time I knew another person who was like me. Despite our similar circumstances, I never became very close with her. I didn’t have a car, and she lived off-campus. I suspect I would have put more effort into the relationship if Mark’s friend had been a man.
By the beginning of my sophomore year, I had come out to my parents and many of my college friends. In September of 1987 I wrote, “Something I’ve meant to do recently is to make a list of people ‘who know,’ if you know what I mean. It’s no big secret if you’ve been keeping up on the past few month’s [entries].” I went on to list 14 people that I had explicitly told about my sexuality and 16 others that I thought probably suspected the truth. I was careful about who I told, but there was not a single person I told during college who rejected me (and most of these guys were conservative Midwesterners).
Tomorrow, part 5 and the conclusion of Growing Up Blind – After College.
Image credit: John Warren