Not sure if it’s human nature or learned behaviour, but we too often expect the worst.
Hi, my name’s Zachariah and guess what? My dad was and still is the Southern Baptist pastor in our town and most of my friends were kids who went to our church. Only two of my friends didn’t go to our church. They went to the Alliance church that had “Jesus Saves” painted like ten feet tall across the side if the building. Just perfect, right. God-fearing kids raised by God-fearing parents working to make the world a better place…well for people who were “God-fearing” like us. I think that’s how it usually works.
However, God-fearing or not, I was scared to death that everyone I counted on and cared about would sooner or later hate me. I was only 14, but I had, I thought, a life-threatening secret. Sounds serious doesn’t it? Well, at the time, it was.
You see I had learned that I had a real preference for guys’ willies over those nasty thingies girls have. I mean, come on, what can you do with one of those things that might even be close to fun? There was no way I was going to get close enough to find out though, especially after my friend Greg said they smelled funny…like yucky funny.
Yeah, yeah, how would 14 year olds have a clue about things like that, right? Well, playing doctor has its advantages…and of course, disadvantages. Advantage…as a doctor, I learned I like working on willies. Disadvantage…doctor or not, enjoying working on willies is not on the church’s list of acceptable pastimes.
You see, a boy who likes to play with other boys’ willies is called a homosexual. Homo means, same…like I liked playing with mine…and I liked playing with other boy’s. It was, like same as in homo, and playing with willies as in sexual, so I was homosexual.
To make matters worse…or better, it didn’t take long to find out that my best friend, Jeremiah Westin (Jer), liked playing with willies too, and he really liked playing with mine. Remember how when you were sick, your mom put a thermometer in your mouth or up your bum when you were little? Well we liked to take each other’s temperature. But we didn’t have a thermometer.
Of course, quite often we would we would become ‘scared’ when our temperature was to be taken. We would have to be calmed and comforted first. You know like cuddled and stuff. One day Jer kissed me and we both found that very ‘comforting.’ Naturally, as time progressed, taking each other’s temperature gradually became a little more involved. By the time we were both 14, we saw ourselves as we were, gay, boyfriends, and very much in love.
As we got closer, though, the fear of being discovered not only never went away, it intensified. We were very careful to make sure everyone simply saw us as best friends. Okay, yeah, we did basically everything together…but as friends. It proved very helpful that we spent a lot of time with our other friends, playing football, soccer, and other stuff.
We were what some people referred to as being in the closet, deeply in the closet. But at least we weren’t alone in there. We had each other. That actually meant we had to be extra careful though. We needed the door closed tightly and for it to stay that way, so a look, a touch, a comment, even the tone of our voice, could have given us away.
Our friends often tried to set us up with some ‘totally hot girl.’ Well we didn’t care how hot they were, or if they were so hot they were on fire, it wasn’t going to happen. Not that it should be a surprise, as time progressed, and since neither one of us showed any interest in ‘hot’ girls, we seemed to arouse some curiosity. Still, the guys never asked any direct questions. That is until one day when Jer, Chase, Jon, and I were laying in the grass beside the river. Chase rolled on his side, looked at us laying there side-by-side, and THE question was asked.
“Please don’t take this the wrong way guys,” he said quietly, “But you’re best friends…super close…right?”
“Well yeah,” I replied.
“We notice you never have anything to with girls though…so some of us kinda wondered…for a long time now…are you guys, you know, like…together?”
Okay, this was it. We both knew sooner or later it would be asked, just not now, or any time in the near future. Jer and I had talked about it and we knew there would always be a, here it comes, ‘now what?’
It was ‘now what?’ time.
Before we had a chance to respond, and maybe because we both turned 50 shades of white, Jon added, “Look guys we’ve been friends since before we could wipe our own asses. You really think it’ll make any difference to us? Cause if you do, you need to be slapped.”
Jer and I just stared at each other for almost a minute before Chase rather excitedly exclaimed, “We knew it!” and since Jer was closest to him, Chase grabbed him and gave him a huge hug.
Not like it happens often, but we were both totally dumbfounded and totally lost for words. However, Chase and Jon weren’t.
Their first question was, “Why couldn’t you tell us?”
Jer got his senses back before I did and replied, “Fear, man. Telling your friends is scary, like totally fucking scary.”
Chase immediately responded with, “We’ve been friends forever. You shoulda figured out our love isn’t conditional by now.”
That comment took away any fears and we spent the next hour talking about being gay or straight, and going to church and religion, and, of course, hater bullshit. We gave Chase permission to tell the other guys who were wondering. We did that because we knew he would explode if he had to keep quiet about it, and that could be messy. Finally, we then wandered off into our usual sophisticated philosophical banter about this and that and that and this. Thankfully girls’ boobs never came up once.
It wasn’t until we were alone again that it really hit us…we were together…and it was okay with our closest friends. We still weren’t a hundred percent sure of our other friends, but they took care of that the next time we saw them. None of them gave a flying fuck that we were together. Mostly it was, ‘why the hell hadn’t we trusted them enough to tell them a long time ago?’ Not just them, as we soon discovered, but the entire school…thanks, Chase…for not exploding.
It was just a matter of days before we met three other couples at school. They had no clue about each or us other until we came out. They had, like us, been in their little closets built for two, for months or years. Now they knew they were not alone. We very quickly became friends, and they very quickly became part of our group. Also, it wasn’t long before some of their friends infiltrated our group, let them know they had also known for a long time, and didn’t care either. It was wonderful and freeing for all of us. We were all a little pissed that we had let fear overpower love and trust. Fear can be a real bitch.
Speaking of which, none of us was quite yet prepared to go home and say, “Guess what Dad and Mom, I like willies, especially my boyfriend’s willy. His bum is pretty cool too.” And with a Baptist pastor for a father, I sure as hell wasn’t prepared.
Time passed like it always does, duh, and we lived our semi-closeted lives to the fullest. Then one day our little group, which filled a whole pew now, were waiting with bated breath for another one of my dad’s totally inspiring sermons.
As he walked slowly up to the pulpit, I whispered to Jer, “Please make this a short one,” for which I got a grin and a jab.
Judging from the amount of time he spent staring out over the congregation, I knew this was probably going to be a long one though. ‘No…please God…no.’
“As Christians, I know we read the same Bible and pray to the same God, but I wonder sometimes if we are seeing the same things. For instance, back in Lincoln’s time, pro-slavery preachers used the one hundred plus references in the Bible relating to slavery, as clear evidence that slavery was of God’s will. However, anti-slavery preachers argued that the verses were a reflection of the culture and times in which the Bible was written, and did not represent God’s timeless endorsement of slavery. Who was right? Well none of us will argue that when we look back today, we see slavery as an outrage…not God’s will at all.”
Okay? My first thought was, ‘Where on earth is he going with this crap?’
Then, speaking of crap, he totally scared ‘the crap’ out of both Jer and me. He was looking right at us and his next word nearly made me crap myself.
“Homosexuality…long friggin pause… (thanks, Dad) ….is one of the big issues within our churches today. As with slavery back in Lincoln’s time, the split over homosexuality is in the Bible. There are a handful of Scriptures, five to eight…note…not well over a hundred as with slavery, but five to eight that speak of homosexuality or same-sex intimacy.
“Conservatives see these as reflecting God’s timeless will for human relationships. Hence we get one man-one woman, and worse, the unbelievable “God hates gays” and so on. Progressives look at these same scriptures in much the same way they looked at slavery in the nineteenth century. They believe that these verses refer to the cultural attitudes and practices in Biblical times. They are not timeless.
“However, to try to prove their point, conservatives often use Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:4-5. When responding to a question about divorce, He said, ‘Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female? For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.’
“Unfortunately, instead of seeing this as anti-divorce, many Christians prefer to draw the conclusion that it makes heterosexuality the norm, and heterosexual marriage the only appropriate way for people to form romantic relationships.
“Another point conservatives make, that is of particular interest to me, is the claim that homosexuality is a choice because God would not create homosexual people. Ironically, Jesus’ own words in this very same passage in Matthew—Matthew 19:11-12— refutes these conclusions. Jesus states, ‘All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.’
“I’m going to look at these in reverse order. First, there are those who have made themselves ‘eunuchs’ for the kingdom of heaven, those who reject marriage to better serve God, such as Catholic priests and nuns. Second, he mentions those who have been ‘made eunuchs by others,’ which is a reference to castrated males, a practice not uncommon in early Biblical times.
“But He also mentions a third category: ‘eunuchs who were born that way’. Some might argue that Jesus was referring to males born without testicles, but this would be so extremely rare it would make no sense at all for Him to mention it. Besides, in that time, ‘natural’ or ‘born’ eunuchs were not associated with missing testicles. Rather, they were associated with characteristics and behavior like that of modern gay men. Eunuchs, who were born that way, were commonly associated with homosexual desire.
“Thus, when Matthew 19 is read as a whole, we see that Jesus teaches that most people are created for heterosexual marriage. But, He does not see this as the only honorable way to live. He acknowledges that some human beings have been created by God to follow a less common, but equally legitimate path. He speaks no words of condemnation. Rather he simply states that some people are born homosexual and He accepts them as a natural part of God’s creation.
“After reading and re-reading these Bible passages, I decided I needed to get to know gay people, especially the younger generation. As I talked to them and watched them, I realized they were no different than you and me. Those who were in relationships shared a love very much like the love I share with my wife, and their faith was as authentic as that of anyone here today. I saw that they did not fit the stereotypes I had heard explained. They were not simply pleasure-seeking followers of Satan. They were followers of our Lord, and people in need of love and acceptance, as are we all.
“And, as followers of Christ, we are to love, not hate. If we hate, we cannot call ourselves Christians, because we would be going against Christ’s most significant commandment.
“Jesus did not hope we might, He commanded that we would love one another…not only those we agreed with or if those who were like us, but…period.
“He finished with, ‘God did create homosexuals, and rejecting them would be equal to rejecting His word.’
“Go in peace and love one another.”
Before he turned to step down from the pulpit, he looked at Jer and me again…and smiled.
The first words out of Jer’s mouth were, “Oh my God Zac, he knows…and I think maybe he’s cool with it.”
I had to agree. It did seem like he was letting us know exactly that, but in a very profound and possibly very controversial way. This was a Southern Baptist church after all.
We sang our closing hymn and as we did the meet and greet on the way out of the church, I think Dad got about twenty very big hugs from our friends. Last, but not least, he got the biggest hug I have ever given him and the only hug Jer has ever given him.
“You’re coming over for lunch as usual?” he asked Jer as they released their hug.
“Yes, please,” Jer replied.
We both stayed at Dad’s side until everyone was gone and we headed over to the manse for lunch. We were actually quite surprised at the lack of negative feedback he got as people left. Of course there were a couple who figured Dad was now condemned to eternity in hell and they would be attending the Pentecostal church down the street. Apparently they didn’t like Matthew 19:11-12 and therefore chose not to believe it. It’s funny how that belief thing works with hateful bigots.
Dad laughed and said he didn’t think anyone would miss them.
Once we were all sitting around the table on the deck, Dad said grace and we dipped into a bit of everything Mom had set out in front of us.
As we were eating, I gave Dad a look I don’t think he’s ever seen before.
He just grinned and said, “You two have been inseparable since you were in diapers. As you got older and more mature, it became obvious you were more than friends, and I got tired of waiting for the announcement.”
“You’ve known about us for that long?” was my amazed question.
“Maybe not quite as long as your mom,” he responded.
“You might have fooled your father for a while Zac, but mothers know,” Mom said, before adding with a grin, “Closet doors aren’t necessarily soundproof,” and she ruffled my hair.
Both Jer and I acquired rather embarrassed smiles and very colourful glows at that comment. But if the day hadn’t been weird enough, just then Jer’s parents walked around the corner and sat across from us. I could feel Jer immediately tense up.
His dad just looked at my dad and asked, “Well?”
Dad just smiled and Jer’s mom looked at him and said, “Finally. It’s about time.”
Jer just stared at them, I think kinda like I stared at Dad. His mom got up, walked around the table and gave him a big hug.
“Oh honey, nothing could ever make us love you less,” she said and kissed him on the forehead.
Then his dad laughed and said, “I know we always told you we wanted grandchildren, but I guess we can settle for a puppy we can babysit.”
“Or you can adopt,” Mom said with a big grin.
Jer didn’t know if he should cry or laugh, so he did both. I put my arm around him and gave him a squeeze and he sniffled a couple of times before he rested his head on my shoulder. And that was the end of our gay discussion.
I did ask Dad if he was worried about the reaction he would get from church officials. He wasn’t. He did mention it was rather obvious our friends knew, and he was hoping he didn’t have any cracked ribs from the hugs he got. We went on to talk about everyone’s plans for the rest of the day. Of course ours would involve getting together with our friends to discuss a certain sermon that gave us the last thing we thought we would ever have: parental acceptance.
Just goes to show you, you never know what might happen…when you least expect it.
A special thanks to Colin for editing and posting this story for me.
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This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG13 (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don't want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren't supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!