I knew, I always knew. When I was five or six I was already paying attention to the male back-up dancers and never the half naked main lady dancer, Iris Chacón, during her TV show that came on every Sunday night. My father was the owner of a baseball team and sometimes I went with him to practices or to the games, but you guessed it, I went to see the players and never the game. I couldn’t care less about the game.
I lived terrified of the chance that anyone could guess my secret. From age 12 to 13 I was sexually abused by an older boy who was the son of my father’s friend. This did not make me gay, instead it sexualized what I already knew was an attraction. At age 16 I came across a religion that turned my hate for my “special situation” inward. Shame, guilt and self-hatred were the menu served daily at my table.
Following the LDS religion I served a mission, where serving and living among other young men brought a bunch of new challenges, but I was able to endure the two years. Going along with the teachings of the faith I married at age 24. My bride knew of my attraction and with the little information we both had regarding the subject, we embarked upon the most difficult journey; facing the perfect storm while not equipped with even a compass. We managed to navigate through the difficulties of a mixed orientation marriage with nothing but our friendship to hold us together. In the meantime, we had two beautiful sons, who to this day are the center of our worlds.
More shame and guilt continued to gnaw at our relationship, damaging our friendship. She caught onto the reality and faced the music way before I did. She decided that there was only one way for me to find true happiness and it was by following the path of being true to who I was. She also needed to follow her own path and take care of herself. It was then, after twelve years of marriage, she talked me into going our separate ways. For the longest time I lived in anger and felt that she tricked me into the separation, but later I understood what she had done then, and now I am eternally thankful for her bravery and courage to take that first step I was always too big of a coward to take. I didn’t know the beautiful life, the peace, the joy that was waiting for me on the other side of “the veil”. The veil that was keeping me inside a very destructive place. A place so damaging and dark that took me on a walk on the very narrow line of suicide. Low self-esteem and confusion are a horrific diet to feed off of while trying to raise a young family.
I recall the night, after our marriage was over, when my first same sex encounter happened and the awful feelings of guilt and hatred, I felt toward myself. I thought -for sure I’m going to hell. I walked outside of the house to look at the stars and contemplate what my life would be from then on. When all of a sudden, the most peaceful feeling embraced me; along with feelings of love and acceptance. This is not what I had been taught, or even worse, what I taught for two years during my mission. These feelings were the exact opposite of that which I was “supposed to feel” when I had committed a sin, which I was taught was only second to murder. It was then the first time I doubted the truthfulness of my religion.
For the following ten years I tried to make sense of my truth. The person who I knew I was and who I knew came into this world as a gay man and there was nothing wrong with me. I tried to make sense of that reality paralleled with “the truth” that my religion was alleging were the words from the mouth of God. How can a god who sent me into this world exactly the way I am be telling me that my sexuality was wrong? Isn’t he perfect? Why would he send me along with millions into this world as damaged goods? It was impossible to put my truth in the same plane of that which my religion taught. Now I know my truth; therefore, I know what isn’t true and doesn’t apply to me.
For the last year and a half I have been married to the most wonderful man whom my sons adore and so does my prior spouse and family. By no means is life perfect, but internal peace, love and acceptance are now what’s served at my table.
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This story is dedicated to helping people learn to love better, while fostering an atmosphere of understanding. When we know better, we do better.