Wearing a tuxedo for the first time since I took my best friend’s sister to prom.
I pretended I was holding my fiancée’s hands, afraid to look away from his eyes for fear the moment might not last forever.
Either they stop trying to be treat me like the rest of their friends — number one — or they stop thinking I’m intrinsically disordered — number two. Of course I had many others who told me they never agreed with our church to begin with, and their joy at knowing what was going on at the heart level of my life was like a cool salve. But most grew with the exploding population and found themselves with a congregation exponentially greater than their foundation.
But it was those who represented disapproval mixed with steadfast friendship I was desperate not to lose. With membership in the thousands, the evangelical churches began developing community groups — essentially small groups that would meet outside of the Sunday service, grouped by stage in life to provide support and accountability. I became just another person in the pew they enjoyed shaking hands with on Sunday. That a vibrant church which doesn’t affirm gay people is just not set up to support them, even indirectly.
At least like this I had a happy life on the surface.
Friends’ weddings were the most bittersweet of occasions. I sat through those weddings wondering why I was so unsuited for all those things.
I was in my early twenties so there were plenty to attend, but I always knew they would be followed by a depressive funk. What kind of person I must be to be incapable of such love.
Most of my friends were involved in church, so they had been marinating for years in the knowledge that this was a divine act. The priest would preach on the heroic and beautiful sacrifice the spouses were making. As one wedding ended, when we all bowed our heads to pray, I closed my eyes and imagined what it would be like to be standing in front of the altar myself.
Every mom in the church seemed to know of the perfect girl. I considered confiding in friends about being gay, but thought better.
I didn’t really know what I was supposed to say to that.
I’ve looked it up since and it turns out the statistics are inconclusive at best.
My friends and family would all laugh because the priest was telling us to do something but we were too caught up to notice.
I remember staying seated as my friends walked down the aisle, my head in my hands and tears streaming down my cheeks.