Do you ever long for the day where people won’t cram you into their own narrative—defining who you should be without ever getting to actually know you? I long for this day—deeply. I am sure we have all felt this way at times.
I was the boy who was different. I played with the girls, longed to wear girls’ clothes, and longed to be one of the them—from my earliest memories. I also sought the attention of boys. I wanted them to like me. I wanted to know that I could be liked, and thus had value. I didn’t like myself and saw myself as a failure because when I was little, I played by mostly with my older brother, who always won. I never learned how to win, but only how to lose. I never learned how to come in first, but only second (or lower). Only as an adult, have I been able to look back and see the effect that this has had on me throughout my life.
I had a deep longing to feel successful, valued, and “worth it.”
The pain on my little heart as a child was deep, so I gravitated to where I wouldn’t have to experience it anymore. It’s a pain I would never wish upon the heart of an adult, let alone a little child. I found my comfort zone in the feminine, and the pain of my inadequacy was removed because I was no longer guaranteed to lose with the boys.
Many say that all of this was explainable because clearly I was the “gay” kid, or was “born gay” and just needed to get over it and embrace it. These people didn’t take the time to understand the root of why I found relational comfort zones in the way that I did.
People often like to think of themselves as open-minded, progressive, and tolerant. But is that true for everyone? Those who don’t know me, speak about me as if they know everything on my heart. Some are angry with me for challenging their idea of who I ought to be. Some get upset because I speak of the joy that I have experienced in living chastely within the Catholic Church (despite same-sex attractions and transgender inclinations being a part of my story). They don’t know me, yet some think I am deluding myself. Is that being open-minded, progressive, or tolerant? How about “no” to all three!
They say I was the “gay” kid, but in reality I was the outsider.
I was different and didn’t mix well with the other boys. I prevented myself from getting close because I did not want them to know my heart, and realize that I perceived myself to be a failure.
I wasn’t the “gay” kid, I was the outsider.
In being the outsider, the other boys invented many reasons to pick on me, to distance themselves from me, and to call me names. This started long before any of us knew what “gay” even meant (the only time we heard it was on the Flintstones theme song).
Unfortunately, many people still falsely conclude that feeling different means you might be “gay.” Nothing makes a person gay (or straight) in identity except for one’s choice to make it who they are. We are first and foremost beloved children of God, and are invited to embrace that as our identity above all other things (while being honest with ourselves about the attractions/inclinations we experience). Attractions and inclinations? Not chosen. The identity we claim as our own? Chosen.
I understand the pain of rejection and the desire for approval. (In fact, I believe that these experiences are at the root of the whole Pride movement.) I lived it. Being the outsider brought on the thought that I must “be” gay, because that is what the world impressed into my mind. The world gave me no other alternative. The Catholic Church did.
And in the Catholic Church, I am truly free to be me, and pursue a life striving for holiness (which includes chastity).
And only now, I know I belong.
Andrew is a Courage member and Catholic Speaker who presents the message of joyful chastity to churches, schools, and colleges in both Canada and the United States. He is also a contributor to the Pursuit Of Truth Ministries website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.