“For the past 4-5 years I was hoping for the day that I would just go to sleep one night and not wake up the next.”
You may find David’s story surprising, or maybe all too familiar. In either case, it is inspiring – and I want to share it with you today…
I was raised very traditional Southern Baptist–from preschool to 7th grade I went to the school at the church. My family has strong ties to the church. My dad’s dad (my grandfather who passed before I was born) was one of the like 6 people that started the baptist church in our city just over 50 years ago.
From the time I was 11 years old until I was 23 I was very involved in the Boy Scouts of America, I am an Eagle Scout and have several other awards from them.
I feel my life has been a shadow, I feel I have had to build a life to hide who I am, trying to be who my family wants me to be, who the people I am around want me to be.
Over the years my parents and society and church have said some very hurtful things, when you hear “those people are going to ruin the earth” what are you to think?
But it started tearing me apart on the inside, every day seemed harder and harder to get up every day, hide everything about me, put a smile on. I was in fear that I may do something or say something and someone would say “is he gay?”
For the past 4-5 years I was hoping for the day that I would just go to sleep one night and not wake up the next.
I just did not understand why I had these feelings when I was told it was wrong.
Last semester I was taking a human growth and development class and we were on the part about identity and I felt I had no identity and I started looking more and more into it.
November 4 was the day I decided I no longer wanted to hide it, I experienced every emotion, it became overwhelming but who was there to talk to? I felt I could not get through this alone. I felt I was trying to process to much information at one time.
November 6 was the day I told the first person, the lady at the suicide hotline and then I called the Trevor Project a few days later, which helped tremendously.
About mid-November I told a friend of mine. But it is amazing the power of God, at the time you may not see what he is doing in your life but he was holding my hand the entire time. He placed an angel into my life named Nathan from Utah. We started out talking about fitness, it was very helpful, more of a distraction, a way to release stress. we talked by text over an app a few times a week.
By about the first of December Nathan could see something was going on in my life and I did not know how to tell him, I mean what would he think, well it turns out he is also gay and was getting married a few weeks later. We started talking more and talk about everything,
I finally found someone to talk to and he has been amazing, I view him as an older brother. I don’t think I would be here today if I had never met him. He kept me going through some very rough days. I feel we have a long friendship ahead of us, I know I have put him through a lot of stress, and I have no idea why he stuck around, but I can’t thank him enough for what he has done in my life.
A week before Christmas I told my mom, wow what a day, but she said she loves me and did not say much more, but that is all I needed.
In January I told my oldest brother, in February I told my twin brother and in March I told my Dad.
I went to a PFLAG meeting in Pensacola and through them I found A Safe Port Counseling Center and my final session is this Wednesday. I was also told about Michael and Denise Moore – amazing people – through whom I have learned God loves me just the way I am. They are shining examples of what the church should be.
Not very long ago, I did not want to live anymore. Today, I look forward to each day with a new hope and strength. It does indeed get better. Susan, thanks for listening and loving the way you do.
She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”
She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at FreedHearts.org and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHeartsand Jesus Blog columns.