The youth-written stories in Represent give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Keepin’ the Faith
Can’t I be gay and a Christian?

Names and some details have been changed.

In 6th grade, most of the boys at school thought I was gay because I didn’t share their interests. Most of them played video games, liked sports, and talked about pornography. I didn’t do any of that.

Instead, I did theater, which according to them, was gay. I liked to sing, which was gay. I watched the Disney Channel, which was gay. I was friends with more girls than boys, which, of course, was considered gay.

But then, at the end of the school year, these boys watched me in the school play and saw that I was a good actor and dancer. I went from being gay to cool in their eyes. It was really weird. The boys who used to call me gay now wanted to be my friends. I forgave them and didn’t give this gay labeling any more thought.

The following year, I walked into 7th grade feeling nervous because I had started puberty over the summer. I remember thinking, “What if the girls can tell I’m looking at them sexually?” I had definitely noticed their larger breasts and curvier bodies.

Then I saw my good friend Jake in class. Over the summer he’d matured too. His face was more defined, and he had some chest muscles. I thought to myself, “He is very good-looking.” But I immediately threw that thought away. “I can’t be gay. Were those kids right about me last year? No! I like girls. I’ve had girlfriends. I like inappropriate heterosexual magazines. But Jake’s hazel eyes are so…wow. What am I thinking? Shut up, me!” It was all very confusing. This conflict went on for the first month of school. If I could choose one word to describe my thoughts, it would be…loud.

Now that we were back at school, Jake and I hung out every day. I found myself looking at him romantically, with desire. I even had a dream that we kissed. It scared me to death. I had been raised Christian and taught that homosexuality was a sin. I tried to convince myself, “You only think he’s handsome. That’s it.” But I knew deep down, it was more than just seeing a beautiful creation of God. I was attracted to him.

Dream Sequences

One January day, Jake and I were hanging out at the park and he put his arm around me and leaned in close. My heart beat faster, my ears felt hot, and my eyes got teary. I pushed him off playfully and said, “I gotta go.” When I got home, I cried in the bathroom and went to bed early. I had a dream that night that there was a test at school and whoever passed was gay. Jake failed, but a lot of other boys in the school passed. I remember feeling so free. I felt relief that there were other teens like me; teens attracted to the same sex. When I woke up the next morning I cried because the dream was over, and I realized I might be gay.

This dream ticked me off because I felt like my psyche was making fun of my inner conflict. In the dream, I was happy and relaxed that I could be myself and that there were other people like me. When I woke up I was scared because I wasn’t sure what to do about these feelings. It was like walking in a desert dying of thirst and you think you see a lake, but it’s not really there.

The dream inspired me to find out if Jake was attracted to me. I dropped hints about being bisexual to gauge his reaction. For example, when a cute guy passed us I said, “I wonder if a guy could love another man just as much as a woman can.” But Jake didn’t respond and I could tell he was uncomfortable around me. Suddenly he was “so busy” that I couldn’t go over his house. We stopped talking and were never friends again.

What If God Was One of Us?

Over the summer, I started seeking out other bisexual or gay teenage boys online. I met a guy named Nick who was my age and went to a school near me. We video-chatted, texted, and spoke on the phone. He was all I could think about.

He made me happy, but it was a different happy than I’d ever felt before, like I was excited for something but I didn’t know what. He told me that our life is ours and it shouldn’t be spoiled by anyone else. His parents knew he was gay, while mine didn’t. My parents didn’t approve of homosexuality. I was scared to come out because I didn’t know how they would react.

Over the summer, Nick and I met and he was more handsome in person. We went on a movie date. He and I dated for a few months after that.

During Christmas break, my dad and I went shopping for a new laptop. That was the last time I ever felt peaceful. On the way home, my father’s phone rang; it was my sister. She was crying and told my dad to come home immediately but wouldn’t say why.

My mom greeted us by screaming in a shaky voice that she’d gone through my phone and knew I had an online boyfriend. I started to cry and deny. But I knew I was caught.

Eventually, she stopped screaming at me and sent me to bed. I cried so hard that night and didn’t sleep. All I could think was, “Why God?”

I felt so guilty. My mom cried every day for a week and told me “I don’t want you in hell. I want to see you in heaven. Those people (homosexuals) take kids and rape them, and kidnap them, and give diseases to others.” I was grounded for three months. My parents made me change my phone number and delete all of my social networking accounts. I didn’t get to say goodbye to Nick. I never saw or heard from him again.

The Conversation

Two weeks later, my parents said we needed to talk about what happened.

image by YC-Art Dept

“Son, we are not here to hurt you or judge you,” my mother said.

“Yeah, we just want you to be honest,” my father said.

“OK.” I decided to be honest.

“What are you?” my father asked.

“Um...bisexual,” I replied.

“People only like one or the other,” he replied angrily.

I didn’t know what to say so I just said, “OK, then I’m straight.”

They’d rejected my honest answer. I had been attracted to two guys recently, but I’d liked a lot of girls in the past, so maybe this was just a phase. I said what I knew they wanted to hear though they obviously didn’t believe me.

“It breaks my heart to say this,” my mom said, “but there is a God that you need to fear, and I don’t want your lifestyle to send this family to hell. If I accept this part of you, I will be sinning as much as you. So, you can live however you want outside this house, but when you turn 18, you will be kicked out and you will no longer be part of this family.”

I went into my bedroom and locked the door. I wasn’t sure how to feel.

For the next several weeks, I was depressed. I had been raised to believe that being homosexual was a sin and I still believed that. I was also upset because I had hurt my parents. I felt a sadness and anger that was bottomless.

Some nights I couldn’t sleep because of my racing thoughts. I would pray, over and over, begging God to help me.

Over the next few months, I read the Bible and sang in church more. I felt like this was helping me feel less attracted to men. My parents were being kind to me again.

But I still couldn’t forget how I felt when I was with Nick or Jake. I wasn’t sure if I still liked guys, but I was sure that I liked being in love. I also wanted to have a happy family, and I wanted to go to heaven.

Miserable Lies

I was confused. My family and my religion say homosexual relationships aren’t natural, but wouldn’t I be losing myself if I denied part of my sexual identity? I decided to be secretly bisexual. I’d go to church and let my parents think I was straight.

At school, I became friends with LGBTQ kids. I started wearing more metrosexual clothes, like flowered shirts. At the 8th grade prom I twerked, twisted my wrists, and told a guy on the street he was cute. The next day at the graduation ceremony students asked each other if I was gay. This time, the label didn’t bother me because it was who I was.

But when high school began I decided to go in as straight because I didn’t know how the kids at my new school would react to the truth. Outside of school, I still embraced the LGBTQ side of me. For instance, I like makeup and applying it on my female friends even though I don’t want to be in drag. But I still couldn’t embrace that side of me at home. My mother often says mean things about gay people. When she sees gay characters on TV she says things like, “I’m so glad you don’t do that bullshit.”

I was also lying at church, where I felt the most pressure to be straight. My church feels like an extended family, so living with these conflicting feelings is especially difficult. If I admit I’m bi to everyone, I am going to tear my family apart. If I lie about my feelings and say I’m 100% straight, I’m betraying my family by lying to them, and betraying myself.

I’ve spent months thinking and reading about sin, homosexuality, and Christianity, and I still don’t know what to do. Someday, I’ll have to decide.

I know from TV that some Christian churches are OK with homosexuality, and some parents are too. But right now, for me, that seems a million miles away.

If you need help sorting through this complex issue, contact The GLBT National Help Center. Among other resources, they have a hotline for gay and questioning youth at 888-843-4564.

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