Having been married to a woman for years with three children before "coming out," I often get asked the question of "when did you know you were gay?" My response typically is that there is a difference between secretly knowing something in your heart and being able to accept that reality. For years, due to in retrospect, a warped Roman Catholic upbringing and the conservatism of the area where I grew up, being gay was just something that I could not accept. As a result I went through many mental contortions to convince myself that "it wasn't really true." It is this mental state that the fraudulent "ex-gay" groups and misnamed "ministries" prey upon.
But looking back, there were unmistakable signs I refused to accept. One was prompted to mind while going through old possessions in my house in Norfolk that I plan to put up for sale soon. Among these things was a stack of old vinyl LP albums. One was for the soundtrack of the 1968 movie version of Romeo and Juliet. When I first saw the movie as a field trip for a high school English class, while all the boys were swooning for Olivia Hussey, who starred as Juliet, I was swooning inwardly - and secretly - for Leonard Whiting (pictured below) who played Romeo.
I should have gotten the message, but I didn't. Of course, when the movie was released, it would be another five (5) years before homosexuality ceased to be classified as a form of mental illness. I suspect that in towns and cities all across America - indeed the world - there are teens who like me are striving desperately to not accept the reality of who they are and/or to deal with it and accept it. What drives all this inner torment and self hate is, of course, religion and the need for the pious crowd to condemn and stigmatize others so that they (i) don't have to think and face the fact that the Bible is wrong about gays and (ii) can feel superior and good about themselves.
For all these youths, I hope the day of full marriage equality nationwide comes soon and that conservative Christianity (and other fundamentalist religions) finds a much needed death.