It was a Sunday evening.
Church service ended and I was supposed to meet with the Pastor in her office. I was 13-years-old.
My parents arranged this meeting. I didn’t know what it was about but I was excited to have one-on-one time with Pastor. I loved her. I respected her.
I met with her in the sanctuary after service. We walked to the back where her office was located. After we exchanged some small talk, she began to tell me about a story she saw on the news. It was a story about a man who was sexually abusing little boys. She stated the reason he did this was because he was sexually abused when he was a boy. She then began to tell me how she has helped many homosexuals be set free through the power of Jesus.
I felt anxious. I felt scared. I thought to myself, “If this is what it means to be a homosexual then I don’t want these feelings anymore.”
Even though I’ve always known I’m gay, only one picture was painted for me – all gay people are perverts, it’s repulsive, they can change and if they don’t they’re going to hell. I wanted to be “normal”. So, with the promise I could change, I confessed for the first time at 13-years-old I’m gay. I was bawling, shaking and scared. That Sunday evening, with the Pastor, turned into weekly exorcisms for five years.
Today, I have been going back to that moment in my mind a lot. In my mind, my older self is sitting beside my younger self. Holding me. Comforting me.
Last night, the majority of my family and some of my friends elected a man into office whose Vice President advocates for conversion therapy. Further, Trump’s Vice President, Mike Pence, signed the “Religious Freedom” bill into law in Indiana. The sole purpose of this bill is to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT people. So, if I come off as angry today, it’s because I am.
The votes that my family and friends pledged to Trump and Pence will lead to more LGBT suicides, conversion therapy, less (if any) aid for those living with HIV/AIDS and less opportunities for LGBT people.
I am trying to explore everything I’m feeling today.
The anger. Sadness. Despair.
I am trying to consider the suffering of those who voted for Trump and Pence and why they did.
In the meantime, I’m left feeling dumbfounded. The Trump and Pence supporters I’ve interacted with seem to not understand what this means for people of color, Muslims, LGBT people, women, immigrants, etc. Why? Because it doesn’t impact them in any way, so, they don’t care.
One conversation I had today ended with me cutting ties with a cousin. Some might find that extreme, I do not. Why maintain a relationship with someone who you know carelessly voted for your own oppression and abuse? His inability to recognize his privilege is not my burden to carry nor is it my obligation to continue a toxic connection hoping for change.
So, if I seem angry, it’s because I am.
I am angry because there will be another 13-year-old who meets with his or her pastor and told he or she too can change. That moment will be sanctioned by the government and caused by your vote for Trump and Pence.
Yes, I am angry and that is why.