My Name is Liam Dee, I am a gay, Baptist Christian living in rural Nova Scotia in Canada. Growing up my Family was very involved in the small rural church we attend. My Father is a part of the group that handles the churches finances and my Mother has always been working in different capacities within the church, typically involving children or youth but she has also been a deacon for the past few years now. You could say my family seemed to be the pretty ideal looking christian family. Two parents and two kids being raised in the church, and for the most part I’d say I had a very idyllic childhood. However there was one problem that began to arise when I began puberty around the age of 11 and it was then that I began to realize I was attracted to the same sex. I became aware that all the boys I was attracted to were attracted to our female classmates. This posed a serious issue for me even at the young age of 11. Growing up in the church but also growing up rurally, homosexuality was not something that was really considered to be natural or inborn. So I heard nasty opinions on homosexuality from both christians and non christians alike (I will add that along the way, there were also some positive opinions but the bad vastly outweighed the good). This prompted me to cover up my “unnatural” attractions to the same sex and attempt to convince myself that I was in fact, “normal” and liked girls.
That decision I can honestly say was the worst decision I have ever made in my entire life. It divided my family, it divided my friendships, it divided me and it divided the relationship I had with God. Basically any aspect of my life that required me to interact with other people beyond a shallow level was pretty much impossible, because I felt I had a shame and secret so big, that if anyone got to know me well enough to figure it out, my life would fall into pieces.
I can remember the anger I had towards my parents. A specific instance that has stuck with me is when Glee first began its run on television my family would watch it together every week. But once the show began to develop homosexual relationships between characters I often heard the statement that “the show is pushing the gay agenda, and trying to normalize something unnatural” so it wasn’t worth watching any longer. This is where the division really started in my family because hearing that statement lead me to believe my parents would never accept me as gay. This created anger and tension that I could not express because I felt I could not tell them where it was coming from. Further division in my life came when I began to attempt to date girls. I did not date many, but when I did, I felt as if I was lying to them the whole time, and if I’m honest I really was. I was not attracted to them in any way, yet I would try to convince myself I was. This lead to unhealthy and unhappy relationships without the ability to get past the shallow small talk subjects and really be able to relate to each other. These relationships frequently ended poorly and usually with the girl I was dating being very hurt because they would only receive vague excuses as to why the relationship ended. I felt that I could not tell them the real reason why.
The combination of all these different broken relationships with my family and others lead to a divide within myself. There was the true, gay Liam, which no one knew about and I never planned to reveal, and then there was the fake,straight Liam who was incapable of real, true love and his many broken relationships were the evidence. I am a firm believer that if you cannot know love, you cannot know God, because God is LOVE. So I have no shame in saying fake, straight Liam went through the motions of being a christian individual but was unhappy with the majority of it and blamed God for making him incapable of love. By the end of high school I was a cynical, angry individual who put on the happy face for the public but was dying on the inside.
Finally however, I graduated High School and went to an out of Province College that was far away from rural NS and far away from people who knew me. It was there that I finally began to allow myself to relax and learn more about my sexuality. I spent a lot of time on the internet looking for positive messages on homosexuality and christianity. I began to find resources such as the Gay Christian Network (now Q Christian Fellowship). I also found a YouTube channel run by a guy named Brian Terada that was greatly helpful. These resources helped me to realize that homosexuality and christianity do not have to be separate from each other and that there were others out there who would love and support a gay christian like myself.
Eventually, I felt barely able to come out to someone. I chose an old family friend that I knew was christian and recently publicly announced that they are affirming of LGBTQ+ individuals. This was a huge event in my life and it was well received. However for over a year afterward I was still too afraid to tell anyone else who was important in my life. I did continue to grow my circle of LGBTQ+ friends however. This ironically forced me to come out to my parents as they began to notice comments on my social media from gay individuals. To my surprise however the reaction of my parents was not that of “you need to change, gay is not okay” it was more like “okay. Liam is gay, what does that look like within our family, how do we support him.” This was the polar opposite of what I expected to say the least. Things were not perfect, but in the span of about nine months they wrestled through the scriptures and different theologies and came to the conclusion that they support gay marriage and want to support more people that have been hurt by the church. Upon telling my parents, I found courage and with their support to tell more and more people. Currently, every person that I hold dear in my life knows and is okay with my sexuality; a far cry from what I had expected for all those years.
Where I stand today is by no means perfect. I grow more and more comfortable in my own skin every day. This is no doubt due to the incredible family and friends that I have in my life. I will not lie though. There are demons from my past that manifest themselves in severe anxiety and occasionally bouts of depression. But I am so much better off than I ever thought I would be at this point in my life. My family is whole, happy and united again. I have begun dating and allowing myself to be open and vulnerable with another person, and my relationship with God is on the mend. I am slowly working my way back out of the darkness and I look forward to the light-filled journey ahead, although it’s really hard to say what that will look like. I can say however it will include me showing compassion for the oppressed and down trodden, working to build people up, not tear them down. It will include helping to build relationships that will unite the church and LGBTQ+ communities, showing that we are all one in Christ, even if we don’t agree on everything. I finally understand and feel the love that Jesus shows us as human beings and if everything else fails I will have that and I will be just fine.