I've been somewhat lurking and neglecting to post this on here for some time, but in all honesty... I might be dead by the morning light.
I only have one question for you and anyone who wants to answer it, but I might need to establish some background first.
10 years ago, I figured out I was wrong. Wrong for existing, wrong for not doing well at scholastics, and wrong most of all for not being the Christian man I should be.
I was molested by a younger man (whose name shall remain anonymous for his protection, not a fur though)at the age of 11, he was 9 at the time. I tried to secure the newfound friendship because of my family's (then) recent bonding with his family. Both families being very devout Christians, and homeschoolers seemed like a perfect match and I wanted that to happen between him and myself...
I was tricked into being molested, and was told never to tell about it; but for three years I waited until I couldn't take the hatred, disgust and desire to murder the kid anymore. I exploded in anger, wishing I was never born when he was assigned to a group for a game. that next week, I told my parents. They couldn't believe it. I internalized the anger and redirected it from him, back to myself, for being wrong.
10 years ago, I also figured out I liked guys. Mainly I had crushes on both male and female kid celebrities and equated the usual hangout with full blown sex at the time… Making my attraction to guys and abomination, and making ME an abomination.
I knew what the Bible said about Gays as much as any 9 year old would… not much except you had to change or (in my understanding) kill myself to get rid of this “abomination”.
My heart was broken, full of self hatred and guilt for not being the right Christian, and desiring my complete and total destruction. but then, my cousin committed suicide at the age of 12, me being a year younger, he was the closest person I had to a brother. because of how harmful his suicide was to the whole family, I knew I couldn't do that… even though I still believe its what God wants and what the Christians want since I’m Bisexual today.
Because of this, I can ask this question..
What should I do? Live a miserable life hating my entire existence and fighting the urge every 5 seconds to self harm and wound myself; or Live a free life but losing the family and people I love in the process?
I should also add, I’m a third year sophomore going for a mechanical engineering degree (via Tennessee Tech University and Motlow College) to possibly make characters come to life in the future. I’ve never dated for all 21 years of life, and I live in the Bible Belt Buckle Of Tennessee (no getting away from Christian Hatred). My father is a minister, my mother is very devout, my sister is a successful student athlete gymnast in Georgia, and I just try to keep myself from committing suicide because its wrong.
Everyone wants me to live. But only if its their way, or some sort of way that is decreed by the Bible or something else….
All in all, I hate myself, but don't want to, and want to freely live without these thoughts of guilt and hatred towards myself.
Please respond soon,
Slayton James Talon (age 21)
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As you might have noticed, I just published a similar letter about being gay and Christian. If you haven’t seen it, please read it, too.
I’m sorry to hear about how you were sexually molested. Extraordinary that your assailant was only nine years old. I can imagine that the negative impact that had on your psyche is part of your self-loathing now. You have the double whammy of not only feeling the disapproval of the local Christian community, but also of all the guilt and shame that comes from being sexually assaulted by someone who was supposed to be a friend.
Before I go further, if you are indeed having suicidal thoughts, please stop reading this letter and pick up the phone right now and call the suicide prevention line at 1-800-273-8255 and talk to one of the trained counselors there. Whatever happens in your life, it is not worth killing yourself over.
The core of your struggles here is your belief that you are a bad person. This belief is based on the judgments of other people. If you look, though, you will find still other people who will say that you are a good person. It all depends upon whom you are listening to. You are living in a conservative region, so it’s not surprising your ears are filled with the hatred people in that region evidently have for LGBT people.
In Papabear’s opinion, there is a simple way to determine whether someone is a good person or a person who is doing bad things. A bad person says and does things that hurt others (often deliberately, but often with “good intentions”—and don’t forget that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions). Good people do not harm others, and very good people do things to help others. Given this measuring stick, how would you judge the people who would hate you and make your life miserable because you are gay? Given that, why would you listen to people who are bad or misguided? The wise person does not allow the words of a fool to trouble his ears.
As a gay person, you are in some good company of people who are quite amazing. The list includes Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Tchaikovsky, Oscar Wilde, Walt Whitman, E. M. Forster, Alan Turing, John Maynard Keynes, Cole Porter, Noel Coward, Aaron Copeland, Christian Dior, Laurence Olivier, Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, and Neil Patrick Harris, just to name a few. On top of that, the Pope himself recently said we shouldn’t be judging gay people (recalling his Bible, no doubt—as in, “Let he without sin cast the first stone” and “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”) Even Queen Elizabeth II recently was quoted to say that she thinks gay marriage is a wonderful thing.
So, you see, Slayton, it’s all about the company you keep. Surround yourself with negative, hateful, petty, narrow-minded people, and you are going to get depressed quite quickly, as you are now experiencing. Instead, surround yourself in positive, loving people. For example, there is a website called Gay Christian Survivors that has a super message about acceptance. You can also try the Gay Christian Network.
God, dear Slayton, is about LOVE. God is about ACCEPTANCE. God is about CHARITY. God is about HOPE. Anyone—ANYONE—who is counter to these fundamental values of the Loving God has no right to call him/herself a Christian (or Jew, or Muslim) in my honest opinion.
God does not want you to hate yourself, Slayton. Hatred, whether directed at others or oneself, makes the Lord weep.
At this point, it might sound to you like I’m a Christian. Well, no, I just believe that God (however you want to define Him) is about love and kindness and community. I do not believe in a God who wants war, terror, bombings, killings, prejudice, envy, greed, and selfishness. Call me a nut, but that’s what this bear believes.
To answer your question: you need to live your life as you, and you need to fill your life with people who sincerely love you for you. If that means that some of your family have to go because they hate all gay people, then you are better off without them.
Finish your schooling, get your degree, and move somewhere where you can find love and acceptance. There are many places all over the world, from San Francisco to the Netherlands, where you will be more comfortable (why do you think I’m in Palm Springs and not in Michigan, which made gay marriage illegal in its state constitution). It might be hard to uproot yourself, but it will be the healthy thing to do.
In the meantime, reach out to the gay Christian community. There are thousands of others out there just like you.
Always remember: God is Love.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.