I Once Was Lost (by Grant Bentley)

I   Once   Was  Lost

By Grant Bentley

If any nice person, nasty person, place, event, happening, thing, or sport, seems familiar, it is purely coincidental.

Jacob’s evangelical parents have decided he’s to be the ‘Chosen One’ to save America. Then Terry comes along.

This story is written from a Christian perspective. If your beliefs or non-beliefs would make this offensive to you
then you might not want to read it.

I was born to Selma and Raymond Brown. Raymond Brown was the Rev. Raymond Brown of the Northwest Evangelical Church of God. Actually, it should have been called the Northwest Evangelical Church of God Hates Fags. In spite of all the horrific wars, crimes, poverty, starvation, child abuse, pedophilia, and so on, for some reason, which I cannot fathom any longer, ninety nine out of a hundred of my father’s sermons were focused on hating gays. Not unlike the folks at Westboro Baptist, that, to him, seemed to be the entire focus of the Bible. I don’t know how he was able to do it, but he was able to put significant variety into his sermons while saying the same thing week after week after week.

Of course, I could quote any verse in the Bible by the time I was ten and spent a good part of each day doing just that with my father. I was home-schooled by my mother. I learned reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, and history as my parents interpreted it. I learned about bad presidents and good, God-fearing presidents. I learned about heathen countries and about good, God-fearing countries. Most importantly, I learned about our country’s descent into depravity. I learned how our heathen government was destroying the family as God decreed it to be by accepting and embracing the homosexual lifestyle.

By the time I was eleven, I was convinced that every American was going to hell except, of course, my father’s congregation. While they would be spending eternity dancing on hot coals, we would be spending eternity sitting on the right hand of God in eternal paradise. By twelve, I was standing beside my father behind the pulpit, preaching fire and brimstone with as much or more passion than he did. At thirteen, as things began to change, and I began to grow and my voice began to deepen, my parents explained to me that I was becoming a man…the God-fearing, fire and brimstone-preaching man God intended me to be. Once I had fully matured, I would be responsible for teaching God’s plan to the heathens. I would be responsible for saving America from its backward slide into decadence. I spent nearly every waking hour with either my mom or my dad, being groomed to become America’s saviour. I was the Chosen One.

I was so wrapped up in the life my parents had created for me, I spent little or no time with kids my own age. The funny thing was that I saw nothing wrong with that. I was the Chosen One and I never questioned that fact. For the next four years, I worked with my father and preached up a storm. There were days when you could almost smell the fire and brimstone when walking past the church on a Sunday morning.

Then, a few months after I turned seventeen, I was doing something very unusual. I was taking a break from my studies and sitting alone on the front steps of the church.

I noticed a boy about my age walking down the street. When he saw me, he gave a little wave, came over and sat down beside me.  

“Hi,” he said.

“Hello,” I replied.

“I’m Terry,” he said, extending his hand.

“Jacob,” I responded, as I shook it.

“You new here?” he asked.

“No, I have lived here all my life,” I replied.

“Really? How come I’ve never seen you before?” he asked.

“You don’t come to church.” I stated rather accusingly.

“Not here. My folks and I go to MCC across town,” he replied.

“Oh,” I said.

“You still haven’t explained why I’ve never seen you before, don’t you go to school?” he asked.

“My mom teaches me,” I answered.

“Oh, so you’re home-schooled,” he said.

“That still doesn’t explain why I’ve never seen you around town. Don’t you ever leave the house?” he asked.

“I go to the little corner store sometimes to stock up on candy bars and cookies. They are my one weakness,” I replied with a smile, “But other than that, with my school studies, my Bible studies, and sermon preparation, I don’t really have a lot of time to get out.”

“Bible studies and sermon preparation?” he questioned.

That got us into a conversation about the only things I knew anything about, the church, the Bible, and the homosexual agenda. I began to espouse my views on the state of American society and the only hope to save it. While I was doing so, a few of my fire and brimstone theories on homosexuality and homosexual practices began to emerge.

He sat there listening to me with a look of total astonishment on his face for several minutes. Finally, he stopped me and asked, “Do you honestly believe all that?”

“Of course,” I responded, “It’s God’s word.”

“God’s word?” he questioned.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Okay, if you believe that, give me some verses and let’s discus them,” he suggested.

We must have spent the better part of an hour in discussion. However, for every verse I quoted to him, he had a comeback. Often, he had a verse that directly contradicted it. A couple we tossed back and forth were, Samuel 6:19… God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocious, contradicted by 1 John 4:16… God is kind, merciful, and good. Matthew 6:13… God tempts men, contradicted by James 1:13… God tempts no man. I assume that, because I had never used them together or read them at the same time, it had never occurred to me that there were direct contradictions in the Bible.

He also mentioned several things God had forbidden that, even I had to admit, were no longer considered valid today. Wives are to be 'submissive' to their husbands (I Peter 3:1). Women are forbidden to teach men (I Timothy 2:12). Women are forbidden to wear gold or pearls (I Timothy 2:9) or dress in clothing that 'pertains to a man' (Deuteronomy 22:5). Eating shellfish and pork are forbidden (Leviticus 11:7, 10). Shaving is forbidden (Leviticus 19:27). Wearing clothes of more than one fabric is forbidden (Leviticus 19:19). Adultery is strictly forbidden (Deuteronomy 22:22), which would include marriage after divorce. Then he asked me how I felt about Leviticus 26:44-45, that says, you can buy slaves from foreign nations around you, and you can buy the children of foreigners staying in your country.

He questioned me as to why Leviticus 18-22 was still valid and the others not. If one was still valid, then shouldn’t they all still be valid he questioned. After he left, I simply sat there for at least another half hour contemplating what he had said. I had never been challenged before and certainly not by someone as well versed in the Bible as I was. I had never been given reason to doubt anything I had been taught or read in the Bible before. However, I could not stop thinking about what he had said. Several things were condemned or forbidden in scripture. Why then were they all not still condemned equally today? Why was homosexuality the only thing my father or I preached against? Even as I went to bed that night, I was still thinking of the things he said.

If that wasn’t enough for me to think about, I found I couldn’t stop thinking about Terry. Not just about the conversation we had, but about Terry himself, about how good looking he was, about hoping to see him again. I didn’t quite understand why I couldn’t get him out of my mind, or why I wanted to be with him. That is until about three in the morning, a few days later. I suddenly found myself sitting up in bed in a cold sweat and shaking like a leaf. I had been dreaming. Dreaming an impossible dream.

It couldn’t be. It just couldn’t be. I sat there for five minutes staring into the darkness. I couldn’t even let myself think about it. I couldn’t. But I couldn’t stop the thoughts. I couldn’t stop them. It wasn’t just a dream about Terry. It was about Terry and me… Terry and me together. It wasn’t possible. There was no way. No way I could be having such a dream. No way I could be thinking these thoughts. No way. They were everything I was taught were wrong. They were everything my father preached against. They were everything I preached against. I could not be having these thoughts. I just couldn’t... but I was.

I spent the rest of the night in prayer, praying to God to take these thoughts from my mind. Praying to God for forgiveness for even having them. Praying to God to save me. I was afraid to go to sleep. I hardly left my room except to eat and go to the bathroom for the next week. My parents obviously became very concerned and peppered me with questions about what was wrong with me and why I was confining myself to my room. They were worried… very worried. I had never in my life acted like this. In fact, I had never been anything but the strong, confidant, outgoing, God-fearing, son they raised. They knew something was very wrong. However, it was something I would not talk about… could not talk about… not with them.

For that whole week, all I did was pray. But it was to no avail. I could not get Terry, or what he said out of my mind. How could this one boy have turned my whole world upside down? First, he had planted a tiny seed of doubt in my mind about my beliefs, beliefs that had previously been unshakable. Second, he had unleashed thoughts, homosexual thoughts, which I couldn’t make go away. Not only that, but he was almost all I could think about. Every time I closed my eyes, I could see his smiling face. No one had ever affected me the way he did. Why I wondered.

Finally, out of desperation, I went to the library. I was about to go against my father and investigate the truth about what the Bible says about homosexuality and delve into the truth about homosexuality itself. I spent up to eight hours a day for a week investigating everything I could think of. I read countless articles written by well-known and respected theologians. I even went onto the Internet. The Internet, of course, was forbidden in our home for obvious reasons.

I was amazed at what I found. Translators had substituted the words related to homosexuality by a number of other words, apparently for the ‘sake of clarity’. Those replaced words did not refer to homosexuality at all. They originally meant unwelcome sex, or promiscuous sex but not homosexuality. They had misinterpreted words that meant unclean or unwelcome with the word abomination. The fact that there were any translation errors at all was mind boggling… at least for me.

Another thing that became glaringly obvious was that throughout His life, Christ reprimanded the Pharisees for trying to live by Old Testament laws. His coming had all but negated those laws and they had been replaced by love…Christ’s love. We were to accept Christ as our saviour…to live our lives by His example…to love one another as ourselves. And, we were not to judge one another. That was God’s right and His alone. By the time I was finished, I don’t know if I was more confused or less confused. I had seventeen years of learning and two weeks of questioning. Could almost everything I had been taught and believed for my seventeen years be wrong? Could my parents be wrong? Could every member of our congregation be wrong?

I also discovered that most experts now were convinced that homosexuality was not a choice. We were born homosexual because it quite probably had a genetic component. Homosexuals reacted differently to natural pheromones produced by men and did not react to natural pheromones produced by women. They didn’t choose to react to other men and not to women. It was a natural attraction, or non-attraction.

If we were born that way, and we were each created in God’s image, then why would He hate us? Were we not as He meant us to be? Those two thoughts brought me to my knees. Not because I began to think God created homosexuals by design, but because it had become personal…I thought, “Why were we….” That scared me for a bit. But when I thought about it, I was an abomination if what my father and I preached was true. But I knew I was created in God’s image and I was the way He intended me to be. One other thing I knew was that no amount of prayer made my feelings go away. I was a God-fearing true believer in every sense of the word and my prayers were not being answered. The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that my prayers were not being answered because there was nothing wrong with me. I was as God intended me to be and He saw no reason to change me.

My parents were now way past worrying about my recent behaviour. I was avoiding preaching and studying with my father. I was refusing to talk about what was bothering me. I was leaving the house daily and staying away for the whole day each time. I was careful to take a circuitous route and any time I felt I was being followed, I would disappear into a store or down an alley and lose whoever was following me. The more I read, the more convinced I became that everything I had been raised to believe was a lie. I was not being brought up in God’s word. I was being brought up in my father’s word; his hateful, bigoted, twisted, word… and the angrier I became.

In my father’s eyes, there was only one explanation for my deviant behaviour. It was the work of Satan, or so he said. I had been a powerful force against the works of Satan. I was blessed of the Holy Spirit. I was, as my father put it, the ‘Chosen One’ to save America. But, I was now no longer myself. I had turned into someone else. It was blatantly obvious; Satan was unleashing all his power to stop me. Unfortunately for me, my father was preparing to unleash all his powers to save me. I woke up one morning and when I tried to open my bedroom door to go to the bathroom, it was locked… locked from the outside. I immediately began banging on the door and calling to my parents to let me out. A minute or so later, I heard the sound of a padlock being lifted and unlocked. When my door opened, my father was standing there.

“Why did you lock me in my room?” I asked him.

“Satan is in you boy,” he replied, “With the Almighty’s help, we are going release you from his unholy grip… or die trying.”

I was allowed to go to the bathroom, for five minutes… with the door open. I was then ushered back into my room. As I sat on my bed, my mother brought me my breakfast. I was promptly informed that that would be my last meal for the foreseeable future. Starting today, I would begin fasting and my parents would sit with me in twelve-hour shifts. We would begin praying at noon today and pray non-stop, 24/7, until I was free. My door was closed and as I heard the padlock relocked; I suddenly felt a chill run through my entire body as the realization of what my father had just said hit me. He was going to defeat Satan and free me from his evil grip… even if it meant killing me. I immediately ran to my window only to find that it had been screwed closed and barred with one of those heavy-duty commercial sets of bars you see on some stores. I walked over, flopped down on my bed and wept. One meeting, one boy, one conversation, one hour, that’s all it took. My life would never be the same.

However, given an hour or so, and allowing reason to take precedence over emotions, I began to realize a few things, the first being, that my father was, to say the very least, insane. If I was, in fact, the Chosen One, then God would never allow Satan to possess me, and He certainly wouldn’t allow my father to starve me to death. What’s the point of having a dead ‘Chosen One’? After giving it some thought, and checking to see if my stash of cookies and chocolate bars was still under my bed, I decided I would play the game. We would carry out my father’s plan. Then, given a reasonable period of time, I would ‘come to my senses’ and drive Satan out. I would then spend some time as my ‘old’ fire and brimstone, pulpit pounding self. Then, when their guard was down, I would simply walk away, out of the church, out of their lives… but to where? I had no idea.

That is exactly what I did. Seven days into our prayathon, as my mother and I were denouncing Satan, I saw the light. I did spiritual battle and rid myself of Satan’s grasp. It was hallelujahs all around. My father was ecstatic. He had defeated Satan and I was, once again, the Chosen One. I found it quite amusing to listen to him rant on about how he, not God, had defeated Satan. Obviously my father was now more powerful than God. Hallelujah.

The following Sunday, I gave the most rousing fire and brimstone sermon you could image. Half the congregation left as soon as it was over. I think I scared the hell right out of them. A few days after that, the padlock was taken off my door and I was once again free to move around the house. I composed a rather lengthy note explaining my reasons for leaving and informing them that there was little or no point in them looking for me as there was no way I was coming back. Two days later, at about 3:00 AM on the Friday morning, I packed everything I owned into my backpack and a duffle bag, left the note on my bed, slipped quietly down the stairs, out the front door, and onto the street. I had no idea where I was going. All I knew was… I was going.

About four hours later, and as luck would have it, I found myself standing in front of the Metropolitan Community Church. I knew they were open to all members including gays. Not only that, but this was Terry’s church. I somehow felt comfortable being there, so I walked up to the front steps, sat down, dug a couple of chocolate bars out of my backpack, relaxed and watched the people rushing by to work or school. At about 7:30, the front door of the church opened and a young guy, I assumed was the youth pastor, stepped out onto the front step. When he saw me, he took the few steps over to where I was and sat down beside me.

“Hi, I’m Ross,” he said as he reached out to shake my hand.

“Hi… Jacob,” I replied as I shook his hand.

“You on your way to or from somewhere?” he asked, looking at my backpack and duffle bag.

“From,” I replied, “I’m not sure where I’m going to yet.”

“Want to talk about it?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied, before thinking about it for a few seconds and deciding why not? “My father is the Rev. Raymond Brown of the Northwest Evangelical Church of God.”

“Oh,” he responded, “We have a few ex-members of your father’s congregation. I’ve heard a lot about you actually. You’re the ‘Chosen One’ right?”

“I was,” I said with a little smile.

“Was?” he questioned.

“Yes, was,” I answered, then added without thinking, “I discovered you can’t hate fags if you are one.”

“It sounds like this could be an interesting story,” he said with a smile, “I think we need to sit down over breakfast for this one. You hungry?”

I looked at my Mars bar, smiled, and replied, “A little, yes. Thank you.”

We went into the parsonage and Ross proceeded to scramble some eggs and fry up several sausages. Once we sat down and began to eat, I realized just how hungry I was. An hour later, we had finished breakfast and I had told him my entire story, from being groomed to save America from its fall from grace, to meeting Terry, to his questioning my beliefs, to my dream and realizing I was attracted to him, to praying to God to take away my homosexual thoughts, to questioning myself and then my beliefs, to my extensive research when my prayers weren’t answered, and finally to my forced fasting and week-long prayathon, my plan, and my escape this morning.

“You’ve had a pretty rough time of it since meeting Terry, haven’t you?” he asked.

“Yes, at first, but the more I read, the easier it became,” I replied, “Well until my father decided to ‘save me’ from Satan’s grasp. Then things got a little scary.”

“You think he meant it when he said ‘die trying’?” he asked.

“Yes, I think so,” I replied before asking, “You’ve never met my father have you?”

“I met him once,” he replied, “At a public forum on including sexual orientation from the school’s bullying policy. He is one scary man.”

“He’s a hateful bigot,” I responded.

“I won’t argue with you on that,” he responded with a grin.

“I should probably go,” I said, “I’ve taken up too much of your time already.”

“Where will you go?” he asked.

“I don’t know yet,” I replied, “Just away from him.”

“Do you have friends or relatives you can stay with?” he asked.

“No not really,” I replied, “The only people I know are members of our congregation.”

“You’re going to have to find somewhere to stay. Do you have the means to pay rent or room and board?” he asked.

“I was given an allowance, most of which I put in the bank, so I have about three hundred dollars,” I responded.

“That won’t even begin to get you a place to stay and I can’t just let you wander off,” he said, “I get the idea you’ve been pretty sheltered your whole life so you have no idea what’s waiting for you out there. You won’t stand a chance. The streets will literally eat you alive.”

“What can I do then?” I asked him as fear began to take hold.

“We can give you a room for a few days,” he offered, “Then I’m sure we can work something out with Family Services.”

“Won’t they just send me back home?” I questioned, “My father is pretty powerful and persuasive.”

“After hearing your story I can’t imagine them even suggesting that,” he said.

Just then, the back door of the rectory swung open and then closed with a loud bang and suddenly, Terry was standing there looking at me with a huge grin on his face.

“Oh my God, what are you doing here?” he asked as he grabbed me, pulled my out of my chair and into a hug.

“I left home and then I met Ross out front and he invited me in,” I replied, as I completed the hug and a grin began to form on my face as well.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as we released our hug.

“I live here,” he replied.

“Live here? You said you and your folks attended church here,” I reminded him.

“Well, technically we do,” he responded, “I just didn’t mention in what capacity. My dad’s the pastor.”

“Seriously?” I questioned.

“Yeah,” he replied still grinning.

“I’ll leave you two to chat,” Ross said after about a minute, “I think you’ll find Jacob’s story very interesting and I think you’ll find you two have a lot more in common than you realize. You just might find some things you want to tell each other. Oh, and Mom’s over at grandma’s and Dad is visiting the nursing home, so if you want lunch, you have to make your own.”

“You’re Terry’s brother?” I asked Ross sounding surprised.

“Yep, fraid so,” he replied with a grin, “Catch you two later. Dad wants me to deliver some stuff to Mrs. Graham.”

“I’m starving,” Terry stated, “Let’s make some sandwiches and then you can tell me all about why you left home. From what Ross said, it sounds like it might be an interesting story.”

“Well, Ross just finished feeding me breakfast,” I stated, “So I’m not really hungry yet.”

“I just had breakfast a couple of hours ago too,” Terry replied laughing, “But I’m still hungry. I’m always hungry.”

For the next ten minutes, Terry and I rummaged through the fridge, found all the ingredients we needed and made ourselves a stack of ham and cheese sandwiches with a plate of vegetables and pickles on the side. Terry also poured us two very large glasses of milk.

We chatted about this and that as we worked, but once we were done and were sitting down to eat, Terry asked, “Okay, obviously Ross knows your story, now I want to hear it.”

Now I had a bit of a dilemma. Telling Ross, a total stranger who I thought was an MCC youth pastor was one thing. Telling Terry, who played a key intimate role in my ‘fall from grace’, was quite another. How do I tell him he was basically the sole reason I was sitting across the table from him in his kitchen? How do I tell him about my dream? How do I tell him I’m gay? How do I tell him I like him… a lot… and not in just a friendly way?  I was rapidly becoming very nervous and concerned. If I tell him and he hates me, then what will happen? Will his dad still help me, or will I end up on the streets alone and, as Ross put it, eaten alive. As I sat there thinking, two things came to mind. One, Ross was not the slightest bit surprised or upset when I told him I was gay and about my dream about his brother. In fact, even though he knew all that, he suggested I could stay with them. Two, his comment, “I think you’ll find you have a lot more in common than you two realize and just might find some things you want to tell each other,” made me wonder… a lot in common… things you want to tell each other…?

Finally after I sat there staring at my sandwich for several minutes, Terry asked, “You okay?”

“No, not really,” I replied.

“You can tell me anything,” he said, “Anything at all. I promise. You told Ross and if he’s cool with it, I’ll be cool with it, so you can tell me.”

“It was a little different telling Ross than it will be telling you,” I stated as tears began to form in my eyes.

Terry immediately moved his chair next to mine and put his arm around my shoulders and gave me a little squeeze. When he did that I completely broke down. He just held me and kept telling me it would be okay. Not to worry, he would always be here for me. When I finally calmed down, I told him everything I told Ross, well almost everything. I did leave out some key points.

“That’s not the whole story is it?” he questioned when I was finished.

“Why do you think that?” I asked.

“Because nothing you just said has any more to do with me than it does Ross,” he said, “There’s more isn’t there?”

That just set me off again.

Eventually, he gave me another little squeeze and said, “You’re like me aren’t you?”

“Like you?” I questioned.

“Yeah… you’re like me… and you like me… right?” he stated more than asked.

I pulled away a little so I could turn and look at him. He was smiling and there was a gentleness in his eyes that I had never seen before. I learned later that that gentleness was love but, no one had ever looked at me with love in their eyes before, so I had no way of recognizing it. I can now though.

“You’re gonna make me work for this aren’t you?” he asked with a little grin.

“Excuse me?” I asked feeling more than a little confused but at the same time feeling hopeful that this was going where I desperately wanted it to go.

“Okay, here goes,” he said quietly, “Jacob… I’m gay and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about you since we met. In fact I’ve almost driven Ross out of his mind talking about you all the time.”

I know he felt me physically relax because he looked deep into my eyes and gave me a little smile. I couldn’t help but smile back. Then I told him about my dream and realizing I was attracted to him, about praying to God to make my homosexual thoughts go away, and about finally realizing that if God didn’t make them go away then He didn’t want them to go away. He wanted me this way. If God wanted me this way, then being gay was not a sin. It was okay. The longer I talked, the bigger Terry’s smile got.

“So… you’re like me… and you like me,” he said again grinning when I finally stopped talking.

“Yes… I’m like you… and I like you… a lot,” I stated grinning back.

That got me a gentle kiss… my first kiss ever… from a boy… and not just from any boy… from Terry… and it was perfect.

Three or four kisses later, and after a lot of hugging, we decided to finish our lunch. As we were cleaning up, Ross came back. He didn’t burst through the door quite the way Terry did. In fact we didn’t know he was there until he cleared his throat. I was rinsing off the dishes in the sink. Terry had his arms around me from behind and was nibbling my neck.

I think I turned several new shades of red. Terry just turned and said, “Hey, that didn’t take long.”

“Neither did that,” Ross responded laughing, as he pointed out a little mark on my neck.

“Oops,” Terry said, “Didn’t mean to do that.”

“What?” I asked sounding a little concerned.

“Nothing,” Ross replied with a chuckle, “Your collar covers it anyway.”

“What?” I asked again, getting even more concerned.

“Nothing,” Terry repeated, “I left a little love bite on your neck. No one will notice it.”

“Love bite?” I questioned.

“Here, I’ll show you,” he said as he led me to the bathroom and held up a shaving mirror so I could see. Sure enough, there was a little mark there. Kind of like a tiny little bruise.

“I’ll be more careful from now on.” He said laughing, “Dad knows I’m gay and he knows about you, but I don’t think he’ll be too impressed if your neck is covered in hickeys.”

“Your dad knows about me?” I asked as he led me out of the bathroom and into his room.

“Well not about you being gay, but everything else. He heard me talking to Ross one day and asked me who I was talking about, so I told him,” he responded.

“What did he say?” I asked.

“He just laughed at first,” he replied, “But then he warned me to be careful. With a father like yours and from what he’d heard about you, he said I was going after the impossible. He was afraid I was just going to be hurt and disappointed.”

“And are you disappointed?” I asked with a grin.

“God no,” he responded with a grin as he pulled me down onto his bed, “I’m only hoping it’s not just a dream and I’m going to wake up any minute, lying here alone.”

“Well it’s not dream.” I said as I cuddled up to him on his bed. Unfortunately I had not slept for more than thirty hours and within ten minutes, I had fallen asleep. Not long after I dozed off, so did Terry I guess. It was almost five o’clock when he shook me and I slowly regained consciousness. When I did, he informed me that, not only had we slept all afternoon, but also his mom and dad were home. That second little announcement had me wide-awake.

“Did they see us?” I asked.

“I don’t see how they could have missed us, my door’s wide open,” he replied with a chuckle.

“Yeah, I guess we’d be hard to miss,” I said as he gave me a little peck on the cheek.

“Come on… time to meet the in-laws,” he said with a laugh, “You ready?”

“No,” I responded.

“Good,” he said as he sat up, got off the bed, then took my hand and pulled me up, “Let’s do it.”

“This is really turning into a day of nerves,” I said, “First, sneaking out of home, then talking to Ross, then confessing how I felt about you to you, and now meeting your parents. I’m not sure how much more my poor little mind can take.”

“Not to worry,” he reassured me, “Mom and Dad are gonna love you.”

I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it as ten seconds later we were walking hand-in-hand into the kitchen. His mom was busy getting dinner ready and his dad was working on something at the table. As we walked in, they both stopped what they were doing and looked at us. Again, I found several new shades of red to turn and I think I was probably glowing. Terry, on the other hand, was beaming.

“Mom, Dad, this is my boyfriend, Jacob,” he announced. Well, we met once before, turned each other’s lives upside down, obsessed about each other for weeks, so yeah, I guess we were boyfriends. Why not?

They kept just looking at us for another maybe twenty seconds. It felt like an eternity, but finally, his mom said, “Jacob, we’ve heard so much about you. It’s so good to finally meet you.” She held out her arms and I stepped forward into a warm wonderful hug.

By this time, his dad had regained his senses and stood up. As soon as Terry’s mom released me, he reached out and shook my hand. “I agree with Kate, it’s very good to finally meet you.”

“Thanks,” I was able to squeak out, “It’s good to meet you too.”

As soon as his dad let go of my hand, Terry reclaimed it and laced his fingers through mine. We just stood there for another minute or so, with me feeling very self-conscious and Terry feeling totally pleased with himself. Eventually his dad said, “Why don’t you sit down. Ross has filled us in on most of the details. He suggested you should stay with us until we can get things sorted out. We, of course have no problems with that. I guess Kate and I just need to clarify a few things first though.”

“I just hope I can answer your questions adequately,” I said as Terry and I sat down across from him.

“I’m sure you won’t have any problems,” he responded with a smile, “They’re pretty simple questions.”

“Okay,” I said returning his smile.

His questions, thankfully, were simple and easy to answer. Among others, he asked me how old I was. Did I leave an explanation for my parents or did I just vanish? Did I give my parents any indication of where I was going? Would my parents or the police be looking for me? Did I have any family living nearby? I answered all his questions honestly and as thoroughly as I could.

As we were finishing up, Ross came in and announced that there had been no mention of a missing youth, a runaway, or anything else that may have referred to me on the news. I explained that I wasn’t trying to be rude or a smart-alec but there would be no way my father would do anything that would attract attention to himself or his demon possessed child. The shame would simply be too overwhelming and he would never admit to anyone that I had run away or abdicated my place as the Chosen One in God’s kingdom. If anything, he would simply consider me to have ceased to exist. I would no longer be considered the Chosen One and I would no longer be considered to be his offspring.

“That’s more or less what I thought,” his dad said, “But I should talk to him and Family Services to make sure we don’t get into any legal hassles.”

“I don’t think you’ll get any hassles, from my father for sure, or my mother,” I said.

“Maybe I should give him a quick call right now,” he said as he got up and went into his study to call my father.           

A few minutes later, he came back into the kitchen. “I’m sorry,” he said, “Your father’s exact words were, ‘I’m sorry but I think you have me confused with someone else. My wife and I have no children. Children detract from one’s ability to carry on the Lord’s work,’ and he hung up.”

I just smiled and said, “That’s what I expected. Don’t be sorry. I’m not.”

Later that evening, we were chatting over dinner, Ross asked me what grade I was in at school. When I told him I had my high school diploma, he almost didn’t believe me. I explained that I had been home-schooled until I reached high school. I had taken my high school courses by distance learning and had written my final exams in English, History, Math, Chemistry, and Physics in January.

“Hey, cool,” Terry said, “You’ll be able to help me study for my finals next month. I have English, Math, and Chemistry to write.”

“I’d like that,” I replied.

After dinner, Terry and I cleaned up. Since it was still warm out, we decided to go for a walk. As we were walking, we passed Simple Delight, an ice cream shop just a few blocks from the church.

“Ice cream!” Terry exclaimed as he grabbed my hand and led me into the shop. As we stood in front of the row of containers in the display, Terry asked me what flavour I wanted.

“I don’t know,” I replied, “I’ve never had ice cream before.”

“Oh my God, you have got to be joking,” he responded, “How did you live this long without ever having ice cream?”

“Just lucky I guess,” I replied with a grin before asking, “What’s good?”

“They’re all good,” he replied, “But butterscotch ripple is the best.”

“Okay, I’ll have that,” I said.

Two minutes later I was having my first taste of ice cream. After the first lick, I looked over at Terry and he had a huge grin on his face.

“This is so good!” I exclaimed, “Oh my God. I don’t believe it.”

“You should have seen the look on your face,” he said laughing, “You looked like you were having an orgasm.”

“An orgasm?” I questioned.

“Well close,” he replied laughing.

It was without doubt the most amazing thing I had ever tasted. I was going to be visiting Simple Delight a lot. As we ate our ice cream, we wandered into the park. Before we had gone ten feet, someone yelled out Terry’s name. I looked over and there were three guys sitting on the grass under a huge weeping willow.

As Terry and I approached them, one of the guys stood up, reached out to shake my hand and said, “Hi, I’m Corey, this is Donnie and Kelly, and you’re Jacob, right?”

“Hi,” I replied, “It’s nice to meet you, and yes, I’m Jacob. How did you know?”

“Just the look on Terry’s face and the fact that we’ve never seen you before,” he replied, “You have to be Jacob.”

“We were beginning to think he was losing it,” Donnie said laughing, “We’ve been hearing about his new ‘imaginary’ friend Jacob for weeks.”

“Yeah,” Kelly added as he reached out to shake my hand, “It’s good to see you’re not as imaginary as we thought.”

“Thanks,” I responded laughing, “Imaginary is one thing I’m not.”

Terry and I sat down with them and we chatted for about ten minutes before Donnie suggested we throw the Frisbee around. After a couple of lessons on Frisbee throwing, I was right into it. We played until it was almost dark. As we were walking back towards the church, I was beginning to wonder about just how much I had missed out on. This was only day one and I had discovered a feeling of freedom I never knew existed, I was feeling and receiving a form of love I never knew existed… and I had discovered ice cream. I also made three new friends, learned how to throw a Frisbee, and had just had the most fun I have ever had in my life.

When we got back to Terry’s, his mom was waiting for us. She showed me my room and wished us good night. Ross was still up so the three of us sat around for a while and chatted. Ross even remarked at how much happier and more relaxed I looked. He said that even my posture and how I carried myself had changed, that I seemed more sure of myself, more relaxed and confident. I had to laugh because until I met Terry, the one thing I had never lacked was confidence. But, when I thought about it, he was right. I couldn’t ever remember feeling this relaxed and at ease and the last few weeks had seriously eroded my confidence. Especially today, after leaving home, not knowing what I was going to do, telling my story to Ross, and then confessing my feelings to Terry, and meeting his parents had kept my nerves on edge much of the day. However, once Terry and I went for our walk, I met his friends, and got involved with them playing Frisbee I felt totally relaxed and began to feel confident in who I was again.

It was almost midnight before we went to bed. We took turns using the bathroom. When I was finally ready for bed, Terry gave a big hug and kiss good night before heading for his room. We woke up the next morning to a wonderful breakfast. Terry’s dad was putting the finishing touches to his sermon as we ate. When we arrived at the church, we sat in the second row. As we sat down, Terry laced his fingers through mine and gave me a big grin, which I couldn’t help but return. As I glanced around the church, it felt almost surreal sitting there holding Terry’s hand. A few weeks ago I was standing behind a pulpit denouncing homosexuality with a passion. Now I was sitting in front of a pulpit holding hands with my boyfriend.

Suddenly someone sat down beside us and poked me in the side making me jump. I glanced over and found myself looking into the face of Randy Scott. Randy and his parents had gone to our church for a few weeks about a year or so ago. I remember Randy’s dad came to church alone one Sunday and had a heated conversation with my dad. Then we never saw them again.

“Okay, I gotta hear the story that goes along with this,” he said as he pointedly looked at Terry and my fingers interlocked.

“Oh, hi Randy,” Terry responded with a big smile, “I want you to meet my boyfriend, Jacob.”

“We’ve met,” Randy replied.

“You’ve met?” Terry asked.

“Oh we’ve met,” Randy responded, “And I’m going to want details.”

“Details?” Terry questioned.

“Oh yeah,” Randy replied with a little edge to his voice, “I want to know how you go from preaching ‘death to sodomites’ in one church to holding hands with your boyfriend in another church.”

“Not here, or now. We can get together after church. You want to come over for lunch?” Terry asked him as he gave my hand a squeeze. I think he knew this might be a little confrontational and he wanted to reassure me and let me know he would be there with me.

“Yeah thanks. I’ll ask mom and dad but I’m sure I’ll be able to. I’ll let you know after the service,” he replied as he stood up and moved back to where his folks were sitting in the row behind us.

The service was wonderful. It was nothing like the services my dad or I conducted. It was quiet and uplifting. The message Terry’s dad gave was a message of love. It was like nothing I had ever heard before. After the service, we stood and waited for our turn to leave. Randy’s dad gave me a cold stare as we left our pew. His mom and sister avoided even looking at me. We slowly made our way out of the church and waited for Randy before heading for the parsonage.

“I nearly stepped in front of a gravel truck because of you and your father,” Randy stated before we had gone much more than about ten feet, “If Casey hadn’t grabbed me, I would have.”

“I’m sorry,” I responded.

“A lot of good that would have done me,” he snapped.

“Whoa, back off,” Terry warned.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because,” Terry replied, “He was only doing what his parents brainwashed him to do. His father told him what to think and when to think it. He didn’t know he was hurting anyone. He thought he was doing God’s will. He thought he was helping people.”

“Yeah but how could you preach that crap if you knew you were gay?” he asked me.

“I didn’t know,” I replied, “Not then.”

“Fuck, I just don’t get it,” he responded, “I knew when I was thirteen.”

“Look, let’s just have lunch and then we’ll tell you the whole story, okay?” Terry said.

Randy looked at me for a few seconds and then replied, “Okay, but it better be good.”

Randy’s boyfriend Casey called his cell while we were eating. We invited him over and he arrived just as we were finishing lunch. It turns out that Casey had been watching him that day and had figured out what he was going to do. When he saw the gravel truck approaching, he stepped up behind Randy and as Randy stepped forward, he grabbed his arm and pulled him back. In fact, that was how they met.

Randy had been terrified that he would lose his friends and most importantly his parents love, and be thrown out onto the streets. He was already very nervous about telling them. But, when they started attending our church, he lost all hope of them being accepting. It was Casey who convinced him that being gay wasn’t the end of the world. Once he and Casey developed a relationship and he knew Casey’s family would take him in if his parents reacted badly, he decided to tell them. Casey was with him when he told them he was gay, that he had almost stepped in front of a truck and why... their decision to go to our church and my sermons. Surprisingly, his parents were far more supportive than he imagined they would be. They not only accepted him unconditionally, but accepted Casey too. Apparently, after attending a several of our services over a period of a few months, they had already decided my father and I were nothing more than homophobic bigots and had decided to leave our church anyway. Of course Randy didn’t know that.

Casey turned out to be very helpful as Terry and I tried to explain everything to Randy. He quite often ‘got it’ before Randy did and enhanced the point I was trying to make. Two hours and a lot of tears later, we were still sitting in the back yard and we were still talking. The good thing was, Randy understood. He understood how sheltered my life had been. He understood that I thought I was doing what was right and he understood that I thought I was helping other kids ‘see the light’ so to speak. The best thing was, he forgave me and I made another new friend that afternoon, actually two new friends.

After they left, I felt good about our discussion but, at the same time, I felt seriously troubled. If my father and I had driven Randy to the point where he felt that hopeless, how many other kids had we done that to? How many may have actually succeeded? How many were contemplating ending their life because of me, or my father? I very quickly went from relaxed to tense and Terry picked up on my mood change immediately.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“If I did that to Randy, who else did I do it to?” I queried before adding, “I could be responsible for kids killing themselves.”  

“I don’t think so,” Terry reassured, “Randy is pretty sensitive and easily hurt. I bet most kids would write it off as just so much BS.”

“I don’t know,” I responded, “Even if Randy is sensitive, he probably isn’t the only one.”

“Okay lets list all the families with kids who have attended your dad’s church for as far back as you can remember,” Terry suggested, “If any of their kids quit coming or seemed to disappear, you would know about it right?”

“Yeah, that’s true,” I replied.

Once we did that, except for a few people without kids, and Randy’s family, all the families with kids, for as far back as I could remember, were still attending and so were their kids. None of the kids had quit coming or disappeared. That did make me feel better. But what if some of those kids still attending were gay? What if they were feeling hopeless and on the verge of ending it all like Randy was? Especially if they heard my final rant before leaving. We went back over the list. This time I tried to picture each one of the kids as I preached or as my dad and I spoke to them after the services. Did any of them look hurt, scared or really upset? As we went down the list of names, I spent ten or fifteen minutes trying to picture each one of them in as much detail as I could. We were about halfway through the list when one of the names almost slapped me in the face. It was Bobby Frieze. I remembered him after several services. He never looked me in the eye and always had his head down. Then I remembered after the last service. When I thought about it, he actually had tears in his eyes but quickly wiped them away when my dad spoke to him. I remember, as he walked away, he fired me an angry look of pure hate.

“Bobby Frieze,” I exclaimed almost in a panic, “I have to talk to him.”

“Why Bobby?” Terry asked.

“Because that last Sunday, he had tears in his eyes when my father talked to him,” I stated, “And when he looked at me there was pure hate in his eyes.”

“Okay, but calm down. Panicking won’t help,” Terry said as he gave me a squeeze, “It might have nothing to do with being gay or feeling hurt. Maybe he was simply pissed off with your homophobic tirade.”

“He seemed upset after every service though,” I stated, “But especially the last one. I have to make sure he’s okay.”

“Do you know where he lives?” Terry asked.

“No,” I replied.

“Okay let’s look it up,” Terry said.

We found the phone book and looked their address up. It turns out, he lived about eight blocks from Terry, so we decided to walk over there and see if maybe we could talk to him. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say but I felt I had to try. Maybe I was getting all upset over nothing but I had to know for sure. If his name suddenly showed up in the paper, I don’t know what I would do. I would never forgive myself. Ten minutes later, Terry and I were standing in front of his house.

“What should I do?” I asked.

“Well there’s no way your father would have told anyone about you, so they think you are the same kid you were when you were preaching. Just knock on the door and ask to talk to him,” Terry responded.

“But what if they know somehow?” Then they’ll never let me near him,” I said.

As I was trying to figure out what to do, I turned and glanced down the sidewalk.  Bobby was walking towards us with a bag of groceries.

“That’s him,” I said.

Terry turned to look. At about the same time, Bobby noticed us. Suddenly he looked around like he was looking for an escape route. When he realized we’d seen him, he lowered he head and kept coming with his eyes totally focused on the sidewalk. Terry gave my arm a tug and started walking towards him. When we got close, I said, “Hi Bobby.”

He never looked up, but replied, “Hi,” and kept walking.

Terry reached out and grabbed his arm and asked, “Can we talk to you for a few minutes?”

He stopped walking and yanked his arm from Terry’s grip, but never looked up as he asked, “Why?”

“Jacob needs to tell you something. It’s important,” Terry responded.

Finally he looked up at me. His expression quickly changed from anxious to angry. “Why? So you can tell the faggot to his face he’s going to Hell?” he asked.

“No, that’s the last thing I want to tell you,” I said.

He just stared at me looking totally puzzled before asking, “I find that hard to believe. What then?”

“So I can tell you just the opposite. So I can tell you I was wrong,” I replied, “Please, just give me ten minutes.”

“I don’t know why I should,” he responded.

“We’ll be over there at the bridge. Please just hear us out. It’s important for you and Jacob. We’ll be there for the next hour,” Terry said as he pointed to a little bridge on the edge of the park down the street.

Bobby just looked at Terry, then at me and walked away. He glanced back before turning up the walk into their house. I looked at Terry with tears in my eyes. He smiled at me, took my hand and we walked to the bridge.

“I don’t think Bobby is about to do anything to himself,” Terry said, “He seems like a fighter to me.”

“I hope so,” I replied.

We waited for almost forty-five minutes. I was almost ready to give up when I saw Bobby walking towards us.

“I don’t know why I’m doing this, you don’t deserve it, but you have ten minutes,” he said as he got to us.

“Okay,” I replied, “Thanks. First, I’m not with my father’s church anymore. In fact, my parents have disowned me. But that’s not the point. The point is; I have come to realize that every word I’ve spoken from my father’s pulpit has been untrue. The truth is, it doesn’t matter if a person is gay, straight, bi, transgender, or whatever, God loves them. God created all of us in his image… all of us. After meeting Terry, I learned a lot about myself, the Bible, and God. My father is a bigot and a liar. He misuses the Bible and he misused me to convince people to see things his way… his bigoted, homophobic, perverted way.”

“You’re joking, right?” Bobby responded.

“Think about it,” I replied, “From your perception of me, would I joke about something like that?”

“No, I guess not. The Jacob I know wouldn’t even be able to think something like that never mind say it,” he replied.

That started a dialog between the three of us. I explained meeting Terry, his questioning my beliefs, my dream about him, my prayers going unanswered, my research, and my parents prayathon. When I mentioned my dream, I could see Bobby’s eyebrows go up and with them, his attention level. When Bobby decided to join in and give his side of things, it turns out that he never once contemplated suicide. He said every Sunday after church, he felt mostly angry, especially if I was preaching. He would have to convince himself that we were wrong, that God did not hate him and he was as worthy of God’s love as anyone else. The last Sunday I was there he said was especially difficult because I had been so venomous. He said it was the closest he had come to believing I was right. But even at my worst, I wasn’t able to convince him. He knew in his heart that God loved him and no homophobic, hate-mongering preacher’s kid was going to make him believe otherwise.

When I told him why my sermon had been so powerful, he just looked at me. “Well, if I didn’t believe God performed miracles before, I do now,” he said.

We continued talking for almost an hour. Not all of it had to do with church either. Some of it did have to do with Terry and me. Bobby was quite intrigued by the fact that I had gone from preaching death and damnation towards gays, to realizing I was gay, to admitting I was gay, to having a boyfriend… all in a few months.

“How the hell did you, of all people find a boyfriend? I can’t even find a ‘friendly’ friend. That’s just so not fair,” he said laughing, “Of course maybe if I dared to step out of the closet, I might meet someone. But that isn’t going to happen while I’m still at home. Oh well, I’ll be across the country in college soon, and then… freedom.”

All in all, it turned out to be a great afternoon. I definitely didn’t have to worry about Bobby and I finished the afternoon with one more friend. Later that evening, Terry and I went over the rest of the names to be sure. As we were about to put the list to rest, Micah Kiel’s face suddenly appeared. Micah was younger; maybe twelve or thirteen and he sat near the back of the church. Usually he and his mom left immediately after the service. But they lingered that day. The look of devastation on his face after that last Sunday I preached was right there in front of me. It was heartbreaking.

“Micah Kiel,” I said, “He wasn’t angry like Bobby, he was devastated. He’s only twelve or thirteen and I could tell it hit him hard.”

We quickly looked up their address. It was probably ten of fifteen blocks away. We would have biked over to his place but I had no idea how to ride a bike and wasn’t quite into learning how on the busy streets of the city. Ross however, was going to pick up his girlfriend so we persuaded him to give us a ride. When we arrived, I had the same dilemma about knocking on the door as I had at Bobby’s. I actually looked, hoping he would miraculously appear walking down the sidewalk like Bobby did.

We stood there for a few minutes before Terry said, “Come on,” grabbed my arm and walked me up to the front door.

After another minute or so, Terry reached out and rang the doorbell. A few seconds later, a small but robust woman answered the door.

“Pastor Jacob. Oh my, what brings you to our home?” she asked.

“I… I… was wondering if I could talk to Micah for a few minutes,” I said rather meekly.

“Micah, oh my, he hasn’t been up to some childish nonsense I hope,” she asked sounding concerned, “I’ve done my very best to raise him in the ways of the Lord.”

“No, it’s just a friendly visit,” I replied, “I haven’t had the chance to get to know him and I feel I should.”

“Thank the Lord,” she said glancing up, “It is so difficult with children these days with all the temptations at their fingertips.”

“Yes, it is,” I replied.

“Just a moment and I’ll get him for you.” She said as she disappeared into the house leaving us standing on the front porch.

A few seconds later, she was back with a firm grip on Micah’s arm. He looked terrified.

“Isn’t it wonderful, Pastor Jacob has seen fit to come over just so he can get to know you better,” she stated with what sounded like pride. The ‘Chosen One’ had chosen to seek out her son. It was like I had just bestowed some blessing on them. It was actually kinda creepy.

“Do you mind if we go for a walk?” I asked.

“No, of course not,” she replied, “I know he will be safe with you and your young friend.”

“Once we got about half a block from their place, I looked at Micah and said, “Don’t be so nervous. We just want to help.”

He didn’t reply but just glanced at me. He still looked terrified and on the verge of tears. After walking a couple of blocks we were passing an elementary school yard. Terry steered us into the playground and we found a small table to sit at.

We sat quietly for a minute or so before tears started rolling down Micah’s cheeks.

Finally, he spoke. “You know, don’t you. That’s why you’re here.”

“We’re here to help you. Please don’t be afraid of us.” Terry pleaded with him.

“That’s okay,” he responded quietly and matter of factly, “I’m ready. I have the rope in the garage.”

I nearly lost it when he said that. What kind of a monster did this kid think I was? Terry quickly put his arm around my shoulders and gave me a squeeze.

When I looked into Micah’s tear filled eyes and he realized that my eyes were also filled with tears, he said, “I’m sorry. It must hurt when one of your flock commits such an unforgivable sin and has to be turned away from this world.”

His words sounded so rehearsed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have to wonder where they came from.

I quickly came to my senses and responded, “No Micah, I’m sad because you think that. You have NOT committed an unforgivable sin and you are NOT going to be turned away from this world.”

“But you said…” he started to say.

“I know what I said,” I told him, “But I was wrong.”

Suddenly his expression went from one of fear to one of total disbelief.

“How could you be wrong?” he asked, “You were teaching us God’s Word.”

“No… I wasn’t,” I responded, “I was teaching you my father’s misinterpretation of God’s word. I was giving you the words of a man consumed with irrational hate. My father’s words… not God’s.”

Micah just stared at me with his mouth open.

“He’s right,” Terry interjected, “My father is a preacher and he doesn’t believe anything Jacob or his father preach. He believes God is a God of love and we are all created in his image, God loves us all. He especially loves you Micah because you are trying so hard to live up to His Word.”

“But I can’t,” Micah stated.

“Why do you think you can’t?” I asked.

“Because…” he paused for several seconds, “I am abhorrent in His eyes.”

“No you are not,” I stated firmly.

“But… I… I… I’m homosexual,” he almost whispered, “That’s why you’re here.”

“You’re right,” I said, “That’s why we’re here. To tell you that God knows you are homosexual and He loves you anyway.”

“But…” he started before I interrupted him again.

“Let me explain. Okay? I have learned that every word I’ve spoken from my father’s pulpit has been a lie. It doesn’t matter if you are gay, straight, or whatever; God loves you. God created all of us in His image… all of us Micah. After meeting Terry, I learned a lot about myself, about the Bible, and about God. I also learned that my father misused the Bible and he misused me to convince people to see things his way. He is nothing more than a self-righteous homophobic bigot. Don’t believe anything he says.”

Again, when I was done, Micah was staring at me with his mouth open.

“Micah, you want to know what I learned about myself?” I asked.

“Yes please,” he replied quietly.

“Micah, I’m like you,” I said quietly.

“Like me?” he questioned.

“Yes,” I responded, “Micah, I’m gay. Terry is my boyfriend.”

Again, we got the mouth open stare of disbelief, but it gradually turned into a slight smile.

“Really?” he asked, “Like you’re gay?”

“Yes I am,” and God loves me… He loves Terry… and He loves you.”

“How do you know?” he asked.

“I know,” I said, “Because I prayed for weeks for Him to make it go away and He didn’t. Did you pray Micah?”

“Yes, almost all day every day,” he replied.

“He didn’t change you did He?” I asked.

“No,” he replied.

“When He didn’t change me, I knew,” I said, “I knew He didn’t change me because He created me gay. If He wants me gay then He wouldn’t hate me. It’s the way I’m meant to be. He didn’t change you either, because He created you gay. He loves you Micah. I know that for a fact. I feel it in my heart.”

“So you really know? He loves us?” he asked with a smile, “Like for sure?”

“Like for sure Micah,” I replied as he suddenly wrapped me in a big hug, which I returned.

“I was so scared,” he said as we broke the hug, “I don’t want to go to Hell. I kinda thought that if I died before I could do anything gay, I would be okay. I thought maybe God sent you to help me.”

“Oh my God, Micah, don’t even think that. God loves you. He doesn’t want you to die.” I exclaimed, “Please don’t ever doubt God’s love for you. And if you ever feel worried or afraid, phone or come and see me or Terry or Terry’s dad or his brother, Ross. We’re at the Metropolitan Community Church on 16th Ave. Just don’t do anything you’ll regret. Talk to us first. Please.”

“So you really know? Like for sure?” he repeated.

“Yes I really know… like for sure,” I reassured him.

“Okay… I believe you, and I will come and talk to you if I feel bad,” he promised, “But my mom can’t know. She still believes what we were taught.”

“I know she does and I’m so sorry for that. You think I should talk to her?” I asked.

“No, cause you talked to me first, so she would figure things out for sure,” he warned, “And then she would tell your father and I don’t even want to think about that.”

“Neither do I,” I said as I gave him a little hug.

“Want to go for ice cream?” Terry asked, “Mom’s is just a couple of blocks from here.”

“Oh yeah,” I replied before asking Micah, “Ice cream?”

“Yeah, for sure,” he replied smiling.

“As we were getting up to leave, Micah touched my arm. When I looked at him, he asked, “Uh, I don’t want to be all needy and stuff, but could you talk to Daniel about this? He doesn’t go to your… sorry… your father’s church, but the one he goes to says being gay is wrong.”

“Yeah, for sure, we can talk to Daniel,” I replied, “Will he know who I am?”

“He came to church with us once and you scared the hell out of him,” he replied with a grin.

“Oh good,” I said, “That’s not gonna help much.”

“You want us to talk to him now?” Terry asked.

“That would be okay?” he asked back.

“Yeah, absolutely. Where is he?” I asked.

“Over there,” he said, as he pointed to a very cute kid about his age, who I noticed had been watching us from the swings for the last fifteen minutes or so.

“Cool, let’s call him over,” I said.

Micah ran over to the swings and said something to Daniel. Daniel shook his head quite vigorously. After a few minutes of very animated discussion, the two of them made their way slowly over to us. Daniel kept his focus on the ground most of the way over. A couple of times he stopped and Micah had to take his hand and pull him along.

“Hi Daniel, I’m Jacob and this is my boyfriend Terry,” I said.

His head snapped up at that and he stared at Micah, then at Terry as Terry gave him a smile and a little wave. It was a good half a minute before he would look at me. When he did, it was definitely a look of disbelief and distrust. Fortunately though, Daniel didn’t need as much convincing as Micah did. He also wasn’t anywhere near as upset about being gay. He was more like Randy, angry. Angry that anyone would dare tell him that his being gay was a sin and angry that he had to hide behind a mask and couldn’t be himself.

It also didn’t take long to figure out that the two little guys had a thing for each other. As the four of us talked on our way to Mom’s Ice Cream, Terry and I could see the sparkle in their eyes when they looked at each other.

“What the hell did you say to him?” Daniel asked at one point.

“Why?” I asked.

“Cause he’s like not the same guy,” he replied, “Now he’s all hyper and happy and everything… like before.”

“Is that a problem?” I asked.

“Fuck no,” he responded with a big grin, “I think I just got my best friend back.”

About an hour or so later, Daniel headed home for dinner and Terry and I dropped Micah off at his place as we walked home. The initial result of our time with Micah was a new boy. His mother couldn’t get over the sudden change in her son. That doesn’t mean she had a problem with it, just the opposite. In the last few months, she had begun to seriously worry about him. Then, in one afternoon with Terry and me, he had gone from sullen and depressed to off-the-wall hyper and happy. She had her son back, the way he had always been until the last several months. She was thrilled. She was also thrilled that instead of sulking alone in his room every day after school, he had his best friend, Daniel, back as well. Laughter once more echoed off her walls.  

On Sunday morning, about two weeks later, we were in for a pleasant surprise. Terry and I were walking over to the church when we saw Micah and his mother standing on the front steps talking to Terry’s dad. When I first saw them, they seemed to be having a rather deep conversation with him. Micah looked extra-ordinarily happy and as soon as he saw us, he came running over and gave us both a big hug. We also got a hug from his mother, which I was not expecting.

They had obviously struck a nerve with Terry’s dad and he invited them to come for lunch after the service. It was over lunch that we got the full story of their move from my father’s church to Terry’s father’s church. Apparently the sparkle in the boys’ eyes at the ice cream shop resulted in sparks flying and a rather lengthy kiss in Micah’s room one evening. A kiss that Micah’s mother walked in on. That, of course resulted in a whole different set of sparks. The end result of which was both Micah and Daniel explaining to her that being gay was okay because God chose to create them gay and they knew He loved them because I said so. They also explained why I wasn’t with my father anymore and that I was at MCC.

That conversation led to another one that would be best described as a three-alarm blaze rather than sparks. The next Sunday, his mother confronted my father. My father cursed me out in spades and then lit in to her for mentioning my name in his presence and in the presence of true believers. He then proceeded to curse Micah out in front of everyone. That was his biggest mistake. My father may have thought he had the ability to breathe fire but he was nothing compared to this one angry little woman protecting her son. That is one Sunday no member of the Northwest Evangelical Church of God will ever forget, neither will my father.

We got a lot more details from Micah after lunch when we wandered over to the park. It must have been really something to see my father storm out of his own church in defeat. I was beginning to think he just might have lost some of his credibility after that. It was my hope at least. Of course we hadn’t been at the park for more than fifteen minutes when Daniel showed up. The four of us just sat around and chatted for the next hour or so when we decided it was time to wander over to the Simple Delight for some real ice cream. Mom’s is good but it can’t measure up to Simple Delight. After a great afternoon, we headed home. Micah’s mom had already left. Ross had volunteered to drive Micah and now Daniel home when we got back. At about 5:30, he drove them to Micah’s. Needless to say, we saw quite a lot of Micah and Daniel. They felt safe with us and could be themselves. Their only other truly safe haven was at Micah’s.

About a week later, Terry was at school and I was mowing the back yard. There was a knock on the front door. Terry’s mom answered it. A minute later, she was standing on the deck and right beside her was my mother. It took me a few seconds to notice them. When I did, I stopped dead in my tracks and just stared at her. It took me more than a minute to finally shut off the mower. I was so shocked to see her here, I still couldn’t move for a few seconds. Finally, I began to slowly walk towards them. When I reached the bottom of the stairs to the deck, my mother took the three steps down to me and hugged me. Since I had no idea why she was here, I returned her hug tentatively. If she thought she could get me to return home, that wasn’t ever going to happen.

“How are you?” she asked as we broke the hug.

“I’m fine,” I replied.

“Your father misses you,” she said.

I just laughed and replied, “No he doesn’t”

“Yes he does. He needs you at his side,” she responded, “He needs your exuberance in exalting the Word of our Lord. People listen to you.”

“Good, then YOU listen to ME, now,” I said angrily, “For the first time in my life, I’m not alone with my every thought fixed on who to hate, how to hate and when to hate. I have a life. I have friends. I have Terry and his family. I love and I am loved. Did you hear me? I am experiencing love mother… love. Do you know what that is?”

“But he needs you,” was all she could say.

“No,” I stated, “I’m still trying persuade myself to stop hating him and to find it in my heart to forgive him for what he did to me and for what he is doing to the poor unsuspecting people in his congregation. He is a bigot and a liar who distorts the Word of God to push his ungodly homophobic views onto innocent people. I have spent most of the last several days trying to undo some of the spiritual damage I’ve done because of him. I will never set foot in Northwest Evangelical again as long as I live. In fact, I never want to see him or talk to him again… ever. Please leave.”

“You can’t believe that,” she said, “We’ve devoted our lives to grooming you to be God’s messenger.”

“No,” I repeated, “You have devoted your lives to grooming me to be father’s messenger, and that is something I refuse to be. Every word out of his mouth is full of hate. My God is a God of love.”

“Why are you doing this?” she asked, “What do I tell him?”

“Tell him to go to Hell,” I replied.

She stood looking shocked first, then disgusted before abruptly turning and leaving. As soon as she left, I realized how angry she had made me. I had never in my life felt such anger. I was literally shaking. I started looking around the yard for something, anything. I didn’t know what I was looking for or why I was looking for it. Then Terry’s dad came up beside me and handed me a stick. I didn’t even look at him. I just took it, snapped it in half, and threw it across the yard.

“Sometimes you just gotta break something to let it all out,” he said.

I looked at him and the tears started. He pulled me into a hug and just held me. When I finally settled down and relaxed, he held me at arm’s length and smiled.

“That’s been building up for years, hasn’t it?” he said.

“Oh, God,” I said, “I never… wow… that was scary.”

“But you feel lighter, like this burden has been lifted away,” he stated, “Don’t you?”

When I thought about it, I smiled and replied, “Yeah, actually, I do.”

Terry’s mom brought us each a big glass of iced tea and we just sat on the steps. We didn’t talk, just sat. After about ten minutes, I thanked him and went back to mowing the grass. When I came across one of the pieces of the stick, I grinned, picked it up, kissed it and said, “Thank you.”

When Terry got home that afternoon, he noticed right away. “You found closure today, didn’t you?” he said as he gave me a quick kiss.

“Yeah I really did,” I replied, “How can you tell?”

“You’re shoulders are up,” he said, “You’re standing taller.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he replied.

I then explained my afternoon to him. He gave me a big hug and even bigger kiss. That evening as we were eating dinner, I glanced over at Terry and I wondered how I existed before he came along. My life now felt fulfilled, my existence meaningful. I just smiled to myself as I looked forward to the rest of my life with him. A life I knew would be filled with love.


Within three months of my mother’s visit, the Northwest Evangelical Church of God closed its doors and my parents ‘retired’ to some small rural village on the west coast. That was the last I heard of them.

Terry finished school and graduated with distinction. His average was one percentage point below that of the valedictorian, a good friend of ours, Randy Scott. We actually established a new tradition at the grad banquet and dance that year as well. Three guys brought their boyfriends, well four… sorta, and two girls brought their girlfriends. Bobby Frieze came with his cousin Sheila but spent most of his time with Neil Taylor. Whenever they were on the dance floor, it was always the four of them and it was pretty obvious Bobby was dancing with Neil and his cousin was dancing with Neil’s date. Well it was if you were paying attention. Towards the end of the evening, Bobby brought Neil over to our table, sat down, and introduced him to us. The sparkle in Bobby’s eyes when he looked at Neil left no doubt. Neither did the fact that they were going to be roommates at the University of Toronto in the fall, some two thousand miles away.

Terry and I both decided to go into the ministry. We decided on St. Stephen’s College. It would only be three hours from home and had been in existence for over a hundred years. It also did not discriminate on the basis of orientation. I know you will be disappointed that I’m not going to give details of our four years of classes and studies. However, this would become a thousand-page novel if I did. Suffice it to say that one of the things we learned was that the original scriptures did not use the term homosexual nor did they condemn homosexuals because the word didn’t exist back then.

We are both youth pastors now, with Terry’s dad’s church. We work with the kids within the church but we also have an outreach program in which young people can go online and talk about any issues they have and be supported unconditionally. Their orientation is not an issue and has nothing to do with God’s love. They can contact us by email or phone. We also have an online forum they can join and talk to others who are also questioning or who are like-minded in their knowledge that they are gay. Of course, the forums are closely monitored as haters can spew their poison anonymously on an open forum. It’s disheartening to see but, at the same time, often heartening to see the kids fight back and refuse to take their abuse. We are still hoping and praying that, one day, the haters will be gone, but, in the meantime, we will continue to spread the message that it’s okay to be gay, Christian or otherwise.

The Lord is my Shepherd and he knows I'm gay.  – Rev. Troy Perry


Thanks to Colin for editing, prepping, 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!