A Man of Faith (Who Also Happens to be Gay)

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

"My name is RJ. I'm 51-years-old and only came out when I was 49. I knew I was "different" (I didn't know what gay was at that time) at a very young age (5-years-old). It was not sexual for me, I just knew that I preferred to be with boys and liked to play with Barbies as well as GI Joes.


In fourth grade, a boy named Bob M. asked me if I was gay. It was 1974 and I was quite naive. To me, gay meant happy. When I said yes, he and the other boys around him started to laugh and make fun of me. I felt afraid, rejected. I knew my answer was bad, but I didn't know why. Later that night, I asked my mother what gay meant. She first told me what I initially thought, that it meant happy. When I explained what happened, she told me what it meant in that context. I began to cry. I was devastated because I knew in my heart that I was gay. It still wasn't sexual for me (I was 10), but in junior high school I became attracted to guys. I felt shame. I felt dirty. It was a far different world back then and gays were looked at as perverts.

On June 9, 1978, I began a personal relationship with Jesus...and a new struggle. How to reconcile my sexuality with my spirituality. This was a battle that would be waged over a span of 35 years. I dated girls because that's what society expected of me, but when my thoughts turned to things of a homosexual nature, I felt ashamed. I spent hours and hours on my knees pleading with God, begging Him to take these sinful desires and thoughts from me. When I acted on my homosexual desires I felt that God could never forgive me. No amount of confessing my sins could assuage me of my guilt. I felt lost and alone.

Eventually, I joined the US Air Force, but could not reveal my sexuality. It would have ended my career. I denied who I really was, and lived the life that was expected of me. In 1995, I married and had a son that same year. In 2001, we had a second son. I was and still am so proud to be a dad to those two boys. After 2001, my marriage began to crumble over issues that had nothing to do with me being gay. There were issues with my wife's mental health, physical health, and financial irresponsibility. She stopped working and removed herself from day to day family life. This created a hostile environment and was what we had was no longer a marriage.

In 2012, I retired from the Air Force. DADT was repealed in 2011, but I remained closeted. After I retired I told my wife it was time for us to separate. She left. I remained, determined to maintain a family atmosphere for my boys (then 17 and 11). In 2013, I returned to school at the University of Delaware...and finally came out. It was liberating to finally be free of "my secret." My family (including my boys) are very loving and accepting. My life now is very full with family, friends, and school. I am in a good place.

Since I took my NOH8 photo, same-sex marriage has become the law of the land, but there are still battles to be fought and won for equality for all and I'm slowly finding my voice. So why did I pose for a NOH8 photo? Because I want to take a stand for what is right. I want to stand in support of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. There is no room for hate in our world. My God is a loving God and He loves me for who I am. He loves you for who you are, too. If you've never read 1 Corinthians 13, please do. It is a chapter in the Word that describes love. Verse 13 says, "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." I have been encouraged by many of your stories on this site and I know now that it is possible for me to have a relationship with God and to be who I am.

God bless you all and God bless the NOH8 Campaign!"


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