My story started in a small Texas town called Tomball, where my family homeschooled me until high school to keep me away from the gays and goth kids. My brother and I watched Matlock every morning and Saved by the Bell every afternoon. We went fishing, splashed in creeks, played basketball, and effectively took the school out of homeschooling.

 

I came out to my mom on Valentine’s Day of my junior year in high school. Three days later, I found myself enrolled in a Christian conversion organization, where I spent just under a decade trying to become straight. I stopped taking antidepressants when I finally admitted I was still gay, I still loved Jesus, and I was beginning to think God might love me too.

 

I’ve found Jesus outside the boundaries of fundamentalist Christianity. It took me a long time to leave, but Jesus moved on with me and he led me into a life of love, a fight for justice, and a community of friends who feel like family. Now I live in DC and write about sexuality, social justice, angst, and Christian hope.

 

Sharing openly about my faith and sexuality has allowed me to serve as a sort of underground priest. Strangers reach out to say they heard I was gay and thought maybe they could talk to me about their eating disorder. New friends share about old faith communities that didn’t see the beauty in their humanity. I live for these encounters, for the moments when I can bear witness to the lives of people who were told God loves the whole world, but God doesn’t like people like them.

 

I am who I am because of my friends. My friends are honest about their insecurities and they make it safe for the rest of us to tell the truth about ourselves. They’ve shown me how to tell a better story about love and belonging, where we become family to one another in those unconventional, often inconvenient, everyday ways that most of us long for when we turn to social media or ice cream instead.

 

And I am who I am because of Jesus. At each of those critical moments when I’ve wondered whether God liked those of us who heard we weren’t sexy enough, or straight enough, or successful enough to be worthy of love, I’ve been surprised by Jesus.

 

I write about these things here.