I was raised Catholic.
I’m a devout Christian.
I know the difference between right and wrong, right and left, right or wrong.
But I am a gay man.
And, like many gay people, I have had the most painful moments.
I was sexually abused as a child, and I had my own struggles, too.
But these were not unique to me.
I have also experienced the pain of people who have been marginalized, those who have suffered from racism and homophobia, those whose sexuality is not celebrated in public and those who live in fear.
I want to share a moment with you that will make you realize how much it means to be who you are.
It is in Christ that I am most grateful for my sexuality, and it is in the presence of Christ that my love for others is most pure.
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I grew up in the rural community of Woodbridge, Virginia.
I came out to my parents when I was about 10.
My mother said, “If you don’t love someone, who is going to?”
My father said, “[You’re] a liar.
I can’t believe it.”
My mom didn’t understand.
She said, I think you need to do something about it.
And she took me to a therapist.
I remember walking into that therapy room and I thought, I am not going to be a good Christian.
And I wanted to be perfect.
But that therapist was so good to me and gave me hope, so I stayed.
My dad is a Methodist pastor who is the pastor of a church in Virginia.
So he had been a Christian for 40 years.
And we lived together, I had his kids, and he was a very, very strong person.
So when I asked him, “Do you want to go to church with me?”
He said, no, no.
I said, [If] you don.
And then he said, ‘Why don’t you go to the church with your family and we can talk about it and see what you want.’
So I said to him, ‘I’m going to go.’
And he was like, ‘You’re a Christian and you are a Methodist.
You have to be.
You can’t have it both ways.
If you go, it will destroy you.’
So we went to the Methodist church, and we were the only Christians in town.
We were just happy to be there.
My father has had a long career in medicine, but he was always involved in politics.
I knew him as a very strong Christian and I was attracted to him.
And that’s when I got the idea.
My wife and I were getting married.
We had been married just three months when my wife said, Why don’t we get married?
We went to see the priest and got baptized.
But the priest said, We can’t be baptized, because there are only a few people in this world who can do it.
So we did it anyway.
And when we got to the altar, my wife and we stood there in the sanctuary.
And all of a sudden, I saw Jesus.
And he came up to me, he was so close to me!
I couldn’t believe my eyes.
And the first thing he said was, “I know you’re gay.”
I had never seen anything like that.
And now I had a friend.
We walked away and I walked back into my house and my husband and I sat down and we had dinner.
I asked my husband, ‘How did I do it?
I never told you?’
And he said to me one day, ‘If you ever get married, we will get married.
And if you ever lose your virginity, we are going to get married.’
So that was a big moment for me.
And it’s still a big one for me to this day.
I am married to the man who was my husband when I had this experience.
But we also have a son, and our daughter is an adult.
So now we have our son and our little daughter, and they both have the experience of seeing someone they love.
And my wife has said, You know, this is so powerful.
I think we will be the only people in the world that will ever experience the fullness of love and acceptance and love.
We will have the opportunity to see our son grow up in a loving, accepting home.
But our daughter, who I have known for 15 years, has a different story.
She’s a young person who was molested when she was very young.
And a lot of her life has been shaped by the abuse.
And so it has affected her life and her sexuality.
But when she came out, she had a lot to say about what it meant to be gay in this culture, what it means for her to grow up and her family. She also