I could have been the Orlando Shooter

STRAIGHT PEOPLE: For the sake of explanation, this is how the psychology of closeted gay men works, at least the way it did for me.

When you’re attracted to the same sex and your religion forces you to deny that urge/compulsion/orientation (Whatever you want to call it) you begin to do things to “punish” those thoughts in yourself thinking you can “train” yourself not to think that way. This never works. When I say “never works” i mean, it will work for a period of time, but will _ALWAYS_ eventually fail.

You go into “binging” and “purging” mode where you’re gay part of the time to satisfy that part of yourself and pious (and repentant) the remaining time. But as long as you still believe in THE RULES and repent when you need to, you’re still a “good person” (whatever that means). Being gay is just something you do on days that aren’t Sunday (or whenever your religion practices).

When you encounter someone living their life openly gay, you’re immediate response is anger. “Well, why are they ‘allowed’ to get away with it? They’re not following THE RULES…???” Very rarely does it occur to you that THE RULES only exist in your head.

You divide the world into US and THEM. US = the people who espouse these rules and are ‘like me’. THEM = anyone else.

You set yourself up as judge, jury and executioner with regard to THE RULES and any bad that might befall THEM, they deserved it because they were breaking the rules that I have in my head for these things and thusly aren’t one of US. Once you dismiss violence against THEM, then all bets are off. You can mentally justify anything you do or say. From pushing people off a building to denying a loved one from sitting with a dying same-sex partner.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” — John 13:35

Most of modern christianity translates that verse as “we’ll love you If you believe like us and don’t do anything to challenge our beliefs.” The irony is completely lost on them.

The crisis comes when you can’t live with the dichotomy. At some point you either devolve into violence against the “RULE-BREAKERS” or you decide THE RULES are no longer the most important thing in your life. I went one way.

I could have easily gone the other.

Don’t say “You’re a nice guy and wouldn’t have done that.” I’m not. I would have.

When you’re in a religion, you’re part of THE GROUP WHO KNOWS THE RULES. You’re special. You belong. You’re going to heaven when you die. Not like all of those easily confused evil-doers.

Group dyanics are a very powerful force and don’t for a second dismiss being a part of that group as trivial. When you’re “IN,” it is all-consuming. You’re terrified that you’ll get “kicked out of THE GROUP WHO KNOWS THE RULES” if they ever found out you were gay. So you begin actively campaigning for the “US” side in an attempt to “throw them off the scent” of you being gay. “I couldn’t possibly be gay. Would a gay man do this?” and then you commit some horrific act meant to show the other members of your peer group that you’re not ONE OF THEM.

Most people who have been raised on religion will know and understand this. For many it will be a foreign concept or something you haven’t considered.

Either way, I just can’t shake the feeling that this could have been me. I’ve never perpetrated violence on someone who told me a harsh truth about myself. But I’ve wanted to. I’ve never been insulting to a gay couple in a restaurant, but in my 20’s I wanted to. I’ve hated and derided people for being gay. I don’t know that I ever called someone a “faggot” ( I’ve always hated that word ) but in my head I did. But in my late 20’s came the crisis point.

I sat on the beach and just listened to the waves roll in trying to decide what my life should be and where it should go and not being able to live with the way it was in that moment. I decided that if God is real and he created me, He’d just have to understand how I felt and be ok with me being gay. Living the other way, where I hate myself 80% of the time was no longer an option. That’s where it turned. Everything that is good in my life now, my husband, our dogs, my family loving my husband and welcoming him with open arms… all of it is because of that moment on the beach where I decided if I was going to live, I was going to live authentically. The decision, quite literally, changed my life and made me wish I had made it earlier.

“Change your mind, and change the world.” Not sure who said it, but they were 100% accurate.