You’re going to hell. Yes, you, the young male wearing the loud shirt, scarf, and skinny jeans. Yes, you, the student tutor with a 3.8 GPA, who aspires to have a family, who has goals for your life and a career in mind and who was baptized in a Southern Baptist church; none of that matters when the TRUTH is that you aren’t natural and neither are your actions.
The previous paragraph is what much of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender) community hears on a daily basis from “Christians” everywhere. As a young gay man, I have learned to hide it in front of “those” people; the ones who I know will condemn me for wearing eyeliner in public or holding my boyfriend’s hand. I have quickly learned that in their eyes it doesn’t matter what kind of home I was raised in, what kind of childhood I had, or how many scriptures I memorized between the ages of five and twelve. None of it matters as long as I want to live happily ever after with my handsome prince instead of the stereotypical and “normal” princess that society wishes for me to have.
As long as I wish to profess my love for another man I will not be accepted for who I am by many denominations of Christianity. I have been driven out of one of my childhood churches and the church I found as a teenager made me uncomfortable when the pastor began talking about all of the immoral people, including “the Homosexuals.” Because I am gay, finding a church has been one of the hardest things to do, right up there with having to tell my parents.
Although many Christians don’t agree with homosexuality, I can’t wrap my mind around why people like me would be sent to a place of eternal burning. Being raised in a Pentecostal church, I was “saved” at a young age and subsequently was taught that my salvation could not be taken back. People now seem to have a horrible double standard about the reclaiming of salvation for those of us that decided to tell everyone how we really feel. It just blows my mind that, because I want to fall in love with a man, I am doomed to a cursed afterlife full of wounds that never heal and infinite darkness.
What is even worse than having to battle about where my eternal soul will go after death with a group of people that won’t change their opinion is the internal struggle to carry on. There have been times in my life where I could see the way out clearly and wanted to take it. To end it all and prove them wrong. To be in Heaven with my God… but I couldn’t just throw everything away because someone doesn’t like how I live my life. I am meant for greater things and suicide will never be the best option.
Ultimately, not all gays go to hell: this I believe. Because of this belief, it is not in my best interest to send myself to be with Him before my time has come. My God and I have talked about the fact that I like boys, and we have decided that Hell is not my fate.
This I Believe Illinois is an essay program for high school seniors to share their perspectives as they prepare to enter adulthood. Each year, a panel selcts ten submitted essays to be recorded by their authors for broadcast on NPR Illinois. Since 2007, the selected authors also deliver their essays at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise where the students receive scholarships from the organization.