Welcome to my new blog. This marks my return to blogging after having left the medium a few years ago. I was in a very different place then. There were things that I wanted to say, but I didn’t feel safe to put them out there for all to see. The goal of this blog is to plow through the roadblocks that I previously placed around me.
I guess I should tell you a little about those things and what has happened to remove the barriers that I felt confined me before. Well, the elephant in the middle of the room is that I am gay, and I am also a Christian. That may seem like an easy thing to say to some of you now, but it took me many years to get to a point that I was able to accept those two parts of myself and to believe that they could coexist peacefully as the deeply integral parts of me that they are.
As recently as 2011, I would not have felt comfortable to speak so freely about what is, for many, an extremely controversial topic. In late 2009, I walked away from a conservative non-denominational church in southeastern Ohio. That church had been a place of family, safety, and community for me for 13 years. This was not an easy thing for me to do. I still feel the pain of those abruptly severed relationships at times.
My story differs from those of many. I was not coerced into going to that church. They did not seek me out to corner me so that they could tell me that I was going to hell. Things were very different then than they now. I was born in the late 70’s. I grew up primarily in the 80’s, and attended high school in 1994. That was 20 years ago.
A lot has happened in 20 years. There was no Glee or Modern Family on television. The closest thing we had at the time was a show called ‘My So-Called Life’ starring Claire Danes, which featured a character, which had a character name Rickie Vasquez who was written in such a way that you knew he was gay, but the network, ABC, was still hesitant to let it be stated outright. I didn’t even watch it in first-run. I was too closeted in high school to risk being caught watching anything like that. I would end up watching it years later. The show was cancelled before it ever made it out of its first season. Still, Kudos to ABC for helping viewing audiences to take their first tentative step across that line. In writing this, I actually discovered that this series is actually available on Hulu. I know what I’ll be watching for the next few days. http://www.hulu.com/search?q=My+So-Called+Life
|Wilson Cruz as Rickie Vasquez|
Some of my friends that I went to high school have asked me why I didn’t come out back then. I just look back at them and wonder if they really went to the same high school I did. I was called gay or a faggot many times just walking down the hallways, and I got shoved up against walls and lockers a time or two. There is no way I would have done more to call attention to myself. I resented who I was back then. I knew that I was gay. I was even sexually active with other guys back then, but I maintained a very clear wall between those that I engaged in sexual activity with and those that I publicly called friends. My life was very compartmentalized.
At the age of 20, with a coupe of years of college under my belt, when I started making friends with some of the people from my old church, their promise of a God that could heal and restore, I latched on to that. I wanted to be healed. I wanted to be restored. I hated who I was, and I was willing to try anything that could make me “normal.”
This blog will primarily deal with my journey from self-denial to self loathing to reluctant self-acceptance to self embracing. Looking back, I don’t regret a single step along the way. Each event has contributed to who I am, and I’m finally at a point that I genuinely enjoy who I am. I will also share some current events from my life when they come along. Thank you so much for stopping by today, and I hope that you’ll come back. My hope is that my story will give hope to someone else who needs it, that my story might help someone else come to a point of self-acceptance, but I also hope that I will also get to hear some of your stories. I know that I was not the first to go through a journey like this, and, sadly, I will not be the last. I hope that this blog can be a source of support to those that need it, to let them know that none of us is alone.
I hope you’ll come back, not only so that I can share more of my story with you, but because I also want to hear yours. Please post comments, e-mail me, and share this blog with others that you think might benefit from it. I’m sure that this blog might also attract attention from some who don’t approve of what I have to say. That’s okay. I’ve been called names before, but I won’t tolerate anyone being attacked or harassed on this blog. We don’t all have to agree, but, on this blog, I will do what I can to make sure that all conversations are civil and respectful. If you feel that someone isn’t playing by those rules, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.
© Joshua Culbertson 2014