Monday, June 30, 2014

How My Conservative Religion Almost Killed Me

I have stated before that, in my view, raising a gay child in a conservative Christian (or Muslim) home is tantamount to felony child abuse.  The lessons that the child/youth learns are those of self-hate and self-loathing not to mention a yearning of how to make the gay go away.  These homes represent the antithesis of modern medical and mental health knowledge about sexuality yet parents - whether well intentioned or not - are allowed to subject their children to a world of psychological torture as they treat their children as a form of chattel property.  All too often such children and youth see suicide as the solution rather than walking away for the religious based ignorance in which they have been submersed.  An op-ed in The Advocate tells the nearly tragic story of one gay youth.  Here are excerpts:
It was Saturday night, October 13, 2012, and I was determined to end my miserable existence.

I wrestled with depression since the eighth grade, when I made the connection between the attractions I was having and the words that society — specifically the church — used to label people like me. I was a faggot, a homo, a freak, and an abomination in the eyes of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The only options I was offered were celibacy, a life of lies, or sin. I wasn’t OK with any of those choices.

I spent years trying to "pray away" my attractions, often crying myself to sleep at night, my head whirling with hopelessness and self-loathing.

By my sophomore year of college at Andrews University, I quit going to church altogether. I felt no need to expose myself to the superficial hellos, smiles, and handshakes every Saturday morning. I spent a lot of time in bed on the weekends, brooding on my self-hatred, convinced that the deepest relationships I would ever experience were those of casual jokes and hasty conversations. I was positive that my life was going to become an endless circle of lonely days, self-contempt, and tear-stained pillows. I would rather die than live such a life.

Back to October 13, 2012. Rather than throwing myself from the bridge, I resorted to overdosing, placing myself on the road to heart and liver failure, rather than the asphalt of U.S. 31. I was admitted to Lakeland Healthcare, where I lay in bed after chugging a mix of charcoal and cherry flavoring.
My homosexuality became a matter of life or death, rather than heaven or hell.

Having dodged the bullet I had shot at myself, I needed to understand my sexuality from a different perspective.

I could no longer ask, “What do I need to do to make the people in the church happy?”
It became imperative that I ask, “What do I need to do to become happy and ultimately stay alive?”

Since I joined the unofficial Gay-Straight Alliance at Andrews University, my life has made a 180-degree turn for the better. I have made friends whom I will have for life. I joined a family of love, acceptance, and understanding.

I pray that my friends, family, and fellow members of the church will come to see me through God’s eyes of love and acceptance, instead of through eyes of judgment, apathy, and bigotry. 
So much pain and suffering - all based on a few lines written by unknown herders who, under any other circumstance, would be viewed as ignoramuses.  We would never think to go to medical providers utilizing 2500+ year old myths for cures, yet many do it daily in how they live their lives.  It's frightening and disturbing.  Oh, and I do know about the charcoal mix the author references - I too one had to be treated for an overdose after I sought to simple end the pain.

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