Rather than dragging you through this entire post before giving you the answer to that question, I’d rather tell you the answer up front and spend the remainder of this post explaining to how I arrived at this point. The answer to the first qualifier is “yes.” I am single. The answer to the second is “no.” I am not bitter. This seems to surprise quite a few people. Most people assume that, after spending the first three decades of my life hiding, fighting, or denying who I am, I would be.
Let me talk to you about why I am not bitter. First, let’s talk about those 33 years that I lost to self-denial. It might surprise you to learn that I don’t consider them to be lost. I wish that the world, including myself, would have been ready to accept me for who I am sooner. I do. I regret spending my twenties fighting who I was and finding love, but the reality is that I didn’t, and, as I indicated just now, it wasn’t just everyone else that wasn’t ready. I clearly wasn’t ready either.
Now, let’s talk about the thirteen years that I spent trying to change who I am through focused thought, prayer, and essentially cognitive behavioral therapy delivered by untrained and unlicensed church folks delivering a spiritual type of reparative therapy packaged in media and in-person meetings. This time period allowed me to do something very important though. It allowed me to be honest about my attractions and wrestle with them. Another thing that needs to be noted is that I entered into this process to suppress and change my sexuality as an adult and of my own accord. Throughout this whole process, I was in the driver’s seat.
When I first emerged from my years of living as an ex-gay at the age of 33, I realized that I had a choice to make. I could either wallow in the regret of the years I had lost or I could rejoice and celebrate the years that I have left, the years that I have that I can truly be me, and I live an incredibly blessed life. My life now as an ex-ex-gay has brought me into contact with so many interesting people, some with similar stories and others with very different yet immensely powerful stories of fighting to reach a point of acceptance for themselves or for those that they care about.
Do I wish that I had a Valentine to share my evening with? I do. I would very much like to meet someone to share and build a life with, but, for the moment, I am still very much aware of the fact that I have found the love that eluded me for over three decades, the love of myself, not in a narcissistic kind of way, but in a healthy, it’s okay to be me kind of way. For those of you who are still struggling to find a place and a time to safely come out and be you, hang in there. It really does get better. That’s not just a catching saying. Know that you are valuable and that you are loved. Know that you are not the first to walk this path, and know that my heart breaks for you to be able to open and authentic within your own life and circumstances.
Happy Valentine’s Day!