Updates and such

It’s been a while since I chatted about being gay and Christian. Here’s an update.

It’s been a hot second since I’ve written. Not sure if anyone event reads this. But I just need to blast out my thoughts and get them outside myself, they need to be something other than me to make sense of it, externalizing and validating absurd and confusing thoughts. So if you read and this makes no sense, very possible. I like to pretend my thought process is logical, but it’s actually a sprinkler–spraying in all directions to simply return to where I began. Anyway… here we go.

So I have a boyfriend. I probably should have checked the blog post before this to see if I had said that or not yet. We’ve been dating for about a year. Long story short, he was the first guy to take me on a date. Up till that point, I imagined homosexuality as this awful thing that God requires us not to do because He’s looking out for us. So the fact that it hadn’t been satisfying and that every guy I had been with just felt like a mutual usage of each other, fit into my frame of mind. Don’t touch. It burns.

This had been my idea of God’s morality for a while. Raised a Christian, I ran across two verses that have shifted my frame of mind about morality. The first one is John 10:10. It talks about God coming to bring life and Satan trying to steal, kill, and destroy trough deception. The second one is I Corinthians 10:23. This one talks about everything is permissible under the New Testament (the time we now live in after Christ) but not everything is beneficial. So God, in his infinite wisdom and love, has concocted rules to help us benefit us and gain life, while Satan longs to deceive us, painting mirages where there is nothing but sand to rob us of life.

This was homosexuality for me. It’s bad because it’ll hurt me, and it had up until then. I went from zero to twenty-two in less than two months flat. Virgin to slut is a fine line, a fine line that left me wanting and feeling used. I came to believe that men just mutually use each other. That is until I met Joey.

Joey is an odd duck. If you were to meet him, you would not think he’s gay. That is if you were to prejudge him based upon our society’s very narrow-minded view of the stereotypical gay man. The guy loves guns, working out, and has a hard time sharing his emotions. The guy has a pretty hard and spiky exterior. Sarcasm is his native tongue and he brags about how no one ever knows if he’s not doing well.

All these “great” attributes are not the reasons I’m attracted to him. I’m attracted to him because beneath it all is a heart of gold that deeply cares. Beneath it all, there’s a man who deeply loves me and has pursued me furiously.

Pursuit. It’s a powerful thing. Dating Joey has shown me how much I’ve craved this, so much so that I’ve pulled away at times, just to be pursued. Not the healthiest of decisions. But the longing for it is deep and powerful. It made me realize that that’s the reason I hooked up with so many guys.

It felt so good to just put up a picture and bio and get messages.

Pursuit.

It felt so good to walk around naked in a bath house and have guys look at me.

Pursuit. 

It felt good to have a friend chase me and want to be with me above anyone else.

Pursuit. 

Whether a friendship, hook up, or mentorship, there’s been this desire in me to be chased, to be pursued, and it’s been there a while… 

I’m seven-years-old. I’m playing tag… always. I’m twelve; I’m walking the fence, hoping someone will wonder why and walk with me. I’m fifteen. I’ve sat on the side of the building of my private school, hoping someone would notice I don’t sit with everyone else and sit with me. I’m twenty-seven. People ask me how I am. I always say, “okay”, hoping that people will ask, “No. How are you really?”

I love prying. I don’t know why Gary Chapman did not include it in his five love languages. Screw gifts. I feel loved when people keep asking questions, pulling back the layers, curiosity carrying them forward.

Pursuit. It’s a beautiful thing, and I crave it.

I think that’s why the idea of ending up with a woman is so hard sometimes. Growing up, I was taught that there are gender roles, and they should be followed with the strictest of care. To deviate makes you looks like the other sex, and that’s frowned upon. And you know who does the pursuing? Men. Gender roles will definitely be a blog post for later, but in short, let’s just settle with there is a lot of shame in the idea of letting a woman pursue me.

So where does that leave me? How do I satisfy this deep desire?

Men. Men pursue. I can have a man pursue me, and a man has pursued me… for one year now, and it is the most confusing, exhilarating, frustrating, addictive, abhorred thing I have ever done.

First and foremost, there’s morality. As recalled earlier in this blog, I view the morality of God as God looking out for our best interest, as God acting as a Father that knows better. So if he told me “no” to homosexuality in His book, this means that I should not do this, and because I am, I’m looking behind every corner for the demon or the con, the catch to this “happy ever after”.

And I ain’t gonna lie. I’ve found a few.

First off, I wanna give a hand to anyone that has secured a same-sex relationship that has lasted longer than a few years. Navigating a same-sex relationship has felt like a mine field. I’m not sure where to step or even if I should. Should I go left and he go right? What about when we both jump here? Will that trigger the mine? So those that have marriages and families as a same-gender couple, bravo. You guys are champs. It’s not easy, and here’s why.

  • PDA. You don’t get to do this freely. You’re always wondering how people are going to respond to this. You’re always wondering who’s watching. Kisses are snatched in the safety of shadows. Hand-holding is attempted with anxiety running down the spine. In short, you are always looking over your shoulder.
  • The closet. Both my boyfriend and I are not completely out. Not only do strangers have opinions of you and your love life (of which they have no right to), but your loved ones do too. So when you finally come out to them, if you ever have relational issues, you never feel safe talking to them. Why? Because they won’t fight with you for the relationship. You’re scared that if they’re not saying, “I told you so” and “This is why dating a guy isn’t a good idea”, they’re at least saying it in their head. You have no one in your corner, and it makes it so you have to figure out relational problems alone. All my relationships, both family and friend, feel different. They feel strained. That everyone is just tolerating this relationship. I miss how our relationships were. So much so that I often think about abandoning my boyfriend for the hopes of regaining the way the relationships uses to function.
  • Sex. Not gonna lie, if I end up with a girl, this is the main reason. I love the kissing and the intimacy with my boyfriend. But the sex? Sex is rough, and not because of Joey. He’s great. I panic all the damn time, and he’s been nothing but patient and loving. But gay sex sucks. Here’s why: in a heterosexual relationship, the roles are set. One person will always do the penetrating. The other will always be penetrated. Not the case with a versatile (where partners switch roles) gay relationships. How does this affect sex? Well, pretty intensely, actually. I’m not a huge fan of being penetrated. It hurts. So I either feel like I’m hurting my boyfriend to pleasure myself and feel like shit cause I’m selfish. Or I’m being penetrated and I’m terrified this is my lot in life–to have sex that I don’t even enjoy for the rest of my life.
  • Wedding day. Because people have opinions of same-sex relationships, the wedding will never be like I imagined it. The people I wanted there won’t be there. People will not be agreeing with our vows, they’ll be tolerating our vows.
  • Family. I will never get to make babies with the person I love. We can have surrogates. But this freaks me out because the child’s mother won’t be in their life and if we have a lot, it could become “my kids against your kids”. So we could adopt. But what about that child’s upbringing? They will be teased their entire lives, and that will be my fault. And regardless of surrogates or adopting, we will never have a child that is both of ours. It’s just not possible. Our love will never procure life.
  • Ministry. I have always wanted to spend my life as a missionary or a minister. I love talking about the Love of God and seeing miracles. Whether because of everyone else’s opinions or my own internalized condemnation, the reality of ministry while being gay seems impossible. I have to pick one or the other.

So overall, gay love seems pretty sucky for me. Then I research. Maybe this is just me. But when I look around, it seems like gay love is riddled with pain. So many gay men commit suicide or are plagued with anxiety or have tons of partners. If you were to watch a gay and lesbian romance film on Netflix, you’d find a story of heartache, not hope. Does this mean that gay love isn’t supposed to work? I truly wonder this sometimes. When I pray, like I have been for over a year now, “God have your way,” I almost always imagine God destroying my relationship with Joey and “getting me back on track”. I rarely see Joey and I living in a cabin with our three kids smiling as the sun sets behind the mountains, a whiskey in my hand and a lemonade in his. I see me meeting a woman, wondering the globe with her, and Joey and I securing a friendship. That’s the best case scenario that is the easiest to envision. But all that

Does this mean that gay love isn’t supposed to work? I truly wonder this sometimes. When I pray, like I have been for over a year now, “God have your way,” I almost always imagine God destroying my relationship with Joey and “getting me back on track”. I rarely see Joey and I living in a cabin with our three kids smiling as the sun sets behind the mountains, a whiskey in my hand and a lemonade in his. I see me meeting a woman, wondering the globe with her, and Joey and I securing a friendship. That’s the best case scenario that is the easiest to envision. But all that said, when I pray, “God, have Your way”, I don’t hear God saying that that is the ending. I feel like He’s not giving me the ending. I feel like He says, “What if my way is stripping you of condemnation and shame to walk wholly and holy before me? What if the story is better than any version you can conjure up? What if I am walking with you no matter what and that I will turn it all for the good like I said I would? What if?”

I’ve begun releasing what “His will” should look like. But does that mean that I’ll end up with Joey? I have no clue. Religion aside, I really don’t know if this is what I want. But the idea breaking up with Joey sounds terrible. I don’t want to break his heart, and I’m not sure that this is not what I want. Joey is an amazing man. Do I think that we work well together (probably another blog post)? No. And I think that’s where I’m at. Religion and what other people think pushed to the side is this what I want. I genuinely don’t know. You’ll probably hear a lot of that coming up here over the next few posts. Ps, I’m not good at consistently. So I have no clue when you’ll get the next post. Blogging is not so much for other people. It’s for me, getting my words out there and simply validating them, saying they matter to make sense of them. Back before modern medicine, bleeding out was a way of purifying the body, of getting out the bad. That’s how writing feels for me–bleeding out. But not for some sadistic cause, but cathardic.

Anyways, there’s your first one since a hot second.

A Continued Thought Process…

Continuing this great read—The Brain That Changes Itself

But before I continue in my mental digest, it is important to know WHY Ted Haggard gave me this book. The reason why I even attempted to meet this infamous man, is I’m afraid to become him.

I was raised in Ted’s old church–New Life. At the age of 12, I began looking at gay pornography, and I was terrified.

It’s the sin unspeakable, the permanent moral stain, the unforgiveable. Scared of judgment, I rarely reached out, telling my story to rarely anyone. When I did, the looks came, the words cut and often I was prayed over like a someone demon-possessed child. One such traumatic moment is still very vivid in my mind.

“You struggle with what?” The self-proclaimed small group leader responded. “Brandon, this is demonic! We need to pray over you right now.”

I was taken out of the house where “people wouldn’t hear us,” and told, “Now, when we cast out this demon, it’s natural to feel the need to throw up or cough. It’s a physical manifestation of that which is happening spiritually.”

The man then proceeded to “exorcize” me. I don’t remember the prayer. I don’t remember what happened next. I was left dumbfounded, feeling so contaminated and dirty. I had a demon?

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I didn’t tell anyone.  This is the reason I’m not the only petrified sexually confused boy muted by fear of the congregants.  EVERYONE freaks in the church, unable to handle/understand the situation at hand.

It wasn’t until 16 that my parents found out, and it was NOT my choice. I was “perusing images,” a.k.a. looking at hardcore gay porn, when my dad happened upon me.

Food for thought: at that moment in time, I had recently returned from a mission trip to LA, helping the homeless and destitute within our own country, and a youth conference about the pursuit of God. I was raised talking to God on a regular basis. But NONE of that mattered in that terrible moment with my dad.

After yelling at me, dragging me downstairs, exposing me to my family, asking “Why, why, why?” he took me to the local prayer house where I was prayed over in a janitor’s closet, because talking about it in public was too humiliating. That night was simply the coronation of the most difficult year of my life.

My parents kept me under consistent surveillance, and yet I still managed to feed my lusts. I was caught “perusing” again while babysitting, and the parents freaked.  I was immediately fired. Moment by moment, I was consistently reminded of my “dirtiness,” whether from outside sources or my continual self-loathing that initiated long before I was “discovered” by my dad, but was now “firing all cylinders.” To top it all off, my pastor, the man I had looked up to for truth, love and, above all, integrity, was caught in a massive scandal–the man had received a hand job from a local male masseur.

My world came crashing down, while my fears piled up.  I loved ministry. I had been involved in some way, shape or form since I was kid. As my addiction (for that’s exactly what it was) to male pornography grew unmanageable, my greatest fear grew with it to a paramount–I would go into ministry and this addiction would be my downfall. And there, in front of my very eyes, I saw my fears manifested first hand. I was doomed.

However, something happened that year. May 20th, 2007. Crying on my bed, begging God for mercy, I heard the Uncreated One speak in my heart of hearts. This may sound absolutely ridiculous, but in that moment I was Neo and God was Morpheus. And just like Morpheus, God had two hands outstretched before me. But instead of a blue and a red pill, it was life or death.

“Brandon, I love you. I want the best for you. I don’t make sense all the time, but I have your best interest in mind. You can come with me, and trust me, leading to a life of abundance, or you can have your own way, lead your own life, which will ultimately result in a death of mind, soul and body. What do you want?”

In that moment I put my faith in Jesus, and in that moment a five year addiction was broken.

Fast forward for sake of time.

Finished high school. Went to a crazy “Bible College.” Became a youth pastor. Six months after I began my pastor role, I started looking at gay porn again. My fears were beginning to become reality. But instead of being kicked out of not only the church but the state, like Ted Haggard was, life was spoken over me, and I was surrounded by love and support.

Fast forward.

Went off to missions for a year. Came back.  Guess what?  I’m still looking at the stuff, and guess who’s church my family is now attending… the very man that instilled so much fear.  The man I saw plummet from “soaring spiritual heights.”

Sitting across from him with an oak desk between us, I’m looking for answers. I’m looking hope. I’m looking for my God that I once knew so well as His Neo. What does Pastor Ted give me? A book. A book about how the brain is not born a certain way; how it’s not a pre-programmed machine, nor a stagnant unalterable force that persistently propels me forward to its pre-programmed auto-pilot destination. It’s malleable.

What does this mean for me?

I’m not trying to change myself to “make it through the narrow gate.” I’m in. I understand that now. Christ died for ALL. No exceptions. The only difference between me and some “non-believer” is just that–they simply don’t believe. Doesn’t change reality.

Ted asked me a very daring question, one that would NEVER be asked within the confines of the stereotypical church. “Well Brandon, what do you want to be? Do you want to be gay, bi or straight?”  Not, “What does the Bible say?”  Not, “You know that’s wrong, right?”  As if I can be cured by rhetorical questions.  But, “What do you want to be?”

That’s just it. I WANT to be straight, and guess what? I can be.

The reason I’m reading this book is because I know this attraction/addiction doesn’t satisfy. It’s left me void. I’m in a fantastic relationship with a beautiful girl inside and out. I don’t want to fuck this up. I want her. I want this feeling, and it can by mine. We’re not “born this way.” The brain is ours to form, and this is what I want it to look like, so screw Lady Gaga. Yes, true, “God makes no mistakes,” and, yes, “Love yourself.” But we’re not born this way. We are made daily by the choices we make.

Destiny has been place into our hands. Where will go?  What will we make of ourselves?

Neuroplasticity

They (series of unexpected discoveries) showed that the brain changed its very structure with each different activity it performed, perfecting its circuits so it was better suited to the task at hand. If certain “parts” failed, then other parts could sometimes take over. The machine metaphor, of the brain as an organ with specialized parts, could not fully account for the changes the scientists were seeing. They began to call this fundamental brain property “neuroplasticity.”

The Brain that Changes Itself–by Norman Doidge, M.D.

This book was recently purchased for my by the renowned ex-pastor of New Life ChurchTed Haggard. Seven years post incident, the once NAE President now pastors a new church named “St James” in the very city he was expedited from. It is in this church my family and I have found asylum from the dogmatic doldrums of religion. Sunday after Sunday we are confronted with graceful authenticity and bewildered by authentic grace.

Sitting across an oak desk from each other, Ted and I divulge our hearts with taboos erased. An unrestrained and unfiltered torrent of the heart is its true elixir. Ted asked me questions no pastor dare inquire–a true breath of fresh air.

After one such inhale exhale, Ted brought me over to the computer and purchased the two most popular books on brain malleability and its possible reprograming. It is in this book that new epiphanies and passions are awakened.

As I sit here in Starbucks, perusing these pages about blindness healed, strokes reversed and balance restored, I’m inspired. This is mindboggling! The brain is fathomless. It heals; it changes; it adapts; it’s in perpetual motion of adaption.

To date, the method of approach to the brain is viewing it as a mechanism, as a machine. Certain parts do certain things. If things break, they’re broken forever. Programs of a computer. This is NOT the case for the brain. It is malleable and organic, pushed and pulled by forces consciously and subconsiously. And this, my friends, has radical implications.