Drew Payne’s Website
Sad To Be Gay No More
The hardest thing I ever did was to come out as a gay man. It didn’t just mean accepting the truth about myself but also rejecting the lies that I had been surrounded by.
I grow up in suburbia, attending a typically evangelical church. As a teenager I slowly became aware of sexuality, my attraction and idolization for those jocks had a name, and I panicked. I withdrew further into myself. Homophobia was everywhere around me, especially at church, right there in the atmosphere and I breathed it into my soul. I believed all their lies, I believed being gay lead straight to hell; I knew no better because I had no influences telling me otherwise. I hated myself for being gay.
At eighteen I discovered the ex-gay movement, at the time it felt such a relief, I could escape hell. I believed all they said, I believed I could turn straight as long as I was “faithful.” This was my fire escape out of hell.
Two years later I was still following the ex-gay movement but my sexuality was still gay; accept now I was suicidal with depression, lonely and deeply self-hating. I had done all that had been required of me, done everything they said I should do but my sexuality hadn’t changed a degree. Each time I failed I blamed myself more for not reaching their impossible goals.
Then, aged twenty, I was outed at church. Overnight I lost all my friends, had “daemons” cast out of me for being gay, told the devil was making me gay and found myself cut out of everything I was involved in at church.
I turned to my ex-gay counsellor for support, to help me through all this but he turned around and sided with the people at my church. In front of me he justified those people’s homophobic behaviour. The ex-gay movement didn’t care about me, they only cared about supporting evangelical homophobia. It was like scales falling away from my eyes.
That was when I cut all my ties with the ex-gay movement, when I realized the last thing they cared about was me, but unfortunately the effects of the ex-gay movement weren’t that easy to shake off.
It took me ten long years to finally come to terms with the emotional destruction that happened to me. Ten years of depression and self-hating, regularly I’d have nightmares reliving all the worst moments (especially having daemons cast out of me) or else I would lay awake into the early hours of the morning convinced that those evangelical Christians were right and I was going straight to hell. I found it impossible to make relationships and was painfully lonely – with hindsight I now realize my hurt was driving away potential boyfriends. It was a spiral downwards of depression; I wanted to die but was also afraid of death because I was terrified of hell.
Release and the beginning of healing came when someone else acknowledged what I had been through was emotionally damaging. A wonderful lesbian therapist, when I finally worked up the courage to tell her what happened to me, replied “Oh my God, that must have been awful.” She was right and with it came relief.
I now live with my partner of eight years, work as both a healthcare professional and freelance writer, and I no longer believe in hell. My life is happy and I can honestly say I am glad to be gay, but it hasn’t been an easy journey here. I am still angry my teenage years and twenties were lost to the emotional damage and long aftermath of being involved in the ex-gay movement.
I am also angry because, twenty years later, they are still telling exactly the same lies and preying on the vulnerable as they did with me. They are still pouring out the same dangerous denial and self-hatred, nothing has changed.
Over the years I’ve meet many men who too have been through the ex-gay movement and have experienced the same or worse treatment as me. All these men have been damaged and hurt, all in their ways have been had difficulty accepting their sexuality. I have not meet one man who has been turned heterosexual by an ex-gay movement.
A reply to Kyle Rice’s First person “I hate being gay”, originally published in the Advocate Magazine.