Growing up as a little kid I was not exposed much to devout religion. I only went to church when my sister and I were visiting our grandparents who were southern baptist. One time I remember sitting in the pew listing to the pastor talk one moment about how we should fear Jesus Christ and the next moment how Jesus was Love. It didn’t make sense to me one bit. That’s when I started questioning. As I grew I started having intense sexual feelings for other guys, even before puberty. I wished and prayed to god that I wasn’t gay but the feelings just grew and became more intense. I began hating myself for who I was because I felt if god made me this way he must hate me too. When my grandfather passed away when I was 14 all the church folk stood around saying things like, ‘God has called him back,’ and ‘God works in mysterious ways.’ To me it sounded as if they were saying god gave my grandfather lung cancer and made him suffer a terrible death just to bring him back to Him. I realized that was total BS. If there really was a god that was all loving and powerful, he would not give someone a horrible disease causing gross suffering just to ‘bring him back.’ He would not work in mysterious ways, he’d be upfront and to the point. With that realization I was able to free myself of the homophobia of religion and just struggle with the societal taboo of homosexuality. I eventually overcame my self hatred and came out at 18. One year later my mother came out to me. Oddly enough when she came out as a lesbian she ‘Found Jesus’ through the local gay church and became a born again gay christian. Yes, those do exist. She once admitted to my sister and I that one of her biggest regrets is that she didn’t find Jesus sooner to allow us as kids to share in her revelation. I looked at her and basically said I am alive because of the absence of Jesus. Growing up I hated myself for being gay. If I hadn’t been able to free myself of the thoughts that god hated me as well I firmly believe I would have killed myself for being gay.