I suppose the title "Book" is a little misleading. I think "Wannabe Book" may be more appropriate.
I'm in the process of looking for an agent for my reported memoir One and the Other.
This is the story about how my Christian faith brought me to reconcile with my alcoholic father, but hindered me from forgiving myself for being gay in a Christian community.
The story portrays the struggle of trying to have One and the Other: a love of God and a love for men. It chronicles my desire to have a Christian identity and a gay one – even when I’m not sure I can, or should, have both.
The faith that called me to reconcile with my earthly father made me feel dirty, sinful, and laden with guilt. At times it still does.
When I was growing up in Indiana, my mother took my three siblings and me to church every Sunday. Dad came on Christmas Eve and Easter. When I was nine my sister and I had a sleepover at our friends’ house. We played all day, as we had countless times before, but in the middle of the night someone shook us awake. It was our mother. We left dad, she said. We’re going to a new house. We’re not going home.
The plot of One and the Other unearths forgiveness, unconditional love, and the humanization of a man who I thought was past redemption. For years I grappled with loving men I found unlovable: my father, myself, and the men I was told I couldn’t love the way I wanted to.
Christianity can make me feel dead and alive in a union I can’t undo. With the positives my faith brought to light, there was a dark undercurrent that grew stronger the more I dove into Christianity. Juxtaposed with forgiveness is resentment. Next to unconditional love is a deeply rooted self-hate. With the truth that there’s more to my father than alcoholism lives another truth: here is more to me, too. I’m not just a youth group boy who grew into a man. I’m a man who likes men.
I'm the baby brother who entertained suicidal thoughts while wondering if dad was doing the same. I'm the boy who told his mother she can have either a gay son or a dead son. Mine is the story of a young man who very much loves Jesus and other men.
One and the Other is also a narrative about coping with an unwanted reality. There is tension between my willingness to show compassion and grace to an abuser and my hesitation to forgive myself for feelings I didn’t ask for. I tried to purge myself of these urges with Biblical counseling, a book titled Desires in Conflict: Answering the Struggle for Sexual Identity, and an online Bible study called Setting Captives Free. But most of all I poured my energy into the tools I believed in – faith, hope, and the power of prayer.
The Bible told me I’m to forgive as I’ve been forgiven. That’s what I’ve tried to do. But if I followed what the Bible taught and loved my neighbor as myself, I would have hated them, because I hated myself. The readers will join me in my realization that my desire for men won’t disappear despite the lengths I went through to rid myself of the sin.
I’m gay until further notice.
I still find myself plagued with uncertainty – wondering if I made the right choice when I decided to date men. Perhaps I gave up too early. Maybe the Lord handed me over to my sinful desires. Maybe God does plan to change my convictions in his own timing. But after 15 years of suppressing the feelings that consumed me, I decided to welcome them – or at least give them a chance.
My dad and I don’t have a perfect relationship. In fact we talk maybe twice a year. This is not a book full of answers. It’s steeped in questions about identity, relationships, and convictions. Committing fully to being both gay and Christian at times seems impossible. I catch myself wondering if I’m over thinking this all, then wonder if I haven’t thought about it enough.
One and the Other isn’t a how-to guide for Christians looking to come out while maintaining a religious identity. I try to make it to church every Sunday, but I don’t always get there. When the time reads “11:11” on iPhone I add “amen” to the end of my wishes, turning them into prayers. My iPod is full of worship music highlighting God’s goodness and Lady Gaga singing about sex. This is a raw, human story and that’s all it aspires to be.
All I know is I’m happier now. My heart no longer races when I’m about to say, “I’m gay.” My body no longer shakes uncontrollably when I get intimate with a man. I don’t throw up before a first date. Not as frequently anyway. And I’m no longer wondering if I should leave my wallet in my pocket or on the platform when I step in front of the A train at 168th Street.