Sitting here in Pasadena has me wondering about all that has lead me to this point in my life. All the choices rush into my mind, both the right ones and the not-so right ones.
Some choices were made out of cultural norms. One must not do anything to damage the family name, an Asian value.
Some choices were made out of faith; “I will follow you anywhere, Lord." This choice meant working in the pastorate that my sister, brother, and brother-in-law were similarly pursuing.
And finally, as all LGBTQ people understand, some choices are simply made out of fear. One must stay in the closet so as to not be ostracized.
My choices were limited growing up in a faith-based home. I struggle with using this synonym rather than “religious” because I believe my parents and overall family structure was attempting an honest pursuit of the Maker. I saw my mom adopt disenfranchised children and witnessed my dad give generously to family members who were in dire straights back home in the Philippines. Our household was to be a place of faith, compassion, and love... As long as you meet a certain set of criteria. All choices must be made within THIS interpretation of the Word of God.
This interpretation meant that I had to hide. I pushed my liking of men into the deepest crevices of myself. I could appreciate a woman’s beauty but men were the subject of my attraction. I knew that the male form was intriguing from the age of five and could verbalize the word homosexual in reference to myself at the age of twelve. What’s a twelve-year-old boy to do? What’s a nineteen-year-old young man to do when he chooses to come out to his family with the guise of wanting/trying to be straight? What should this young man do with the year of abstinence required by the bible college to which he applied? Keep pushing it all down. Keep pushing “the choice” to be “that way” down. My option (notice the absent “s”) was to hide.
Hide. Hide and be a good son. Hide and be a good Christian. Hide the immorality so that you can fit in at church and serve the Lord’s people. Hide so that your follow Christ followers can be comfortable and fit you into their framework of who God is and isn’t and what He has formed versus what the other guy has formed. My choice was to outwardly practice holiness and inwardly let my “sin” express itself. Until one Sunday, another choice presented itself.
It was near the end of service at this unnamed church. Everyone was standing up as was the norm with Sunday coming to its crescendo. I heard the Lord’s voice within my soul and He said that I still love you and want you to serve me. I still accept you. It was all I needed to hear. I COULD SERVE HIM. I could fully live as a gay man and walk out my faith with Him. I left that church and meandered for a bit until another piece of the puzzle came into play and I met a pastor named Nick and found a new church home. I was finally given an arena to live out another set of choices that were previously unavailable.
I have new choices now. The choice to carve out an authentic identity. The choice to be courageous. To share my story.
I am an avid photographer and while taking in LA Pride last summer I saw a young heterosexual family with their beautiful baby girl. I snapped a picture and didn’t realize until afterwards that the baby girl was wearing something that would rock me. Her parents had decided to put a rainbow sweatband on her arm. As I was processing the photo, I realized that this girl is growing up in a much different world than my own. She’s going to have choices and her parents are going to be okay with however she chooses to authentically live out her identity. She may or may not become a person of faith, but she at least will be able to choose whom she will love. She won’t have to waste any years, at least that’s my prayer anyway.