Pray the Gay Away
By: Selina Boquet
“I’m gay,” I uttered to my husband late one night as our toddler twins were finally snoring away. I pushed a piece of blonde hair behind my ear and sat up in bed and looked at him straight in the face. I wanted him to see my sincerity. I wanted to send him flashing memories of all of the girls that I had said were so hot. I wanted him to remember the stories I had told him about Ellie, my first girlfriend. I was ready to admit that my gay wasn’t ever going to be prayed away. It was time to see if I could convince him of the same.
Everyone in my church knew that I was gay. Ellie was even a part of my testimony. As a Christian, your biggest tool in converting others is your story of what Jesus saved you from. The more sinful and horrid your past life before going to church, the more powerful a tool you have in bringing others to believe in God and joining the church. The more people you bring into the church, the better Christian you are.
My relationship with Ellie was the biggest sin on my sin list. Before you become a part of the church I was in, you have to write a sin list. They instruct you to sit down and write a list of every single sin you have ever committed. Only through confession of every sin before baptism can you be saved. After reading the sin list to the leaders of the church, I felt so shameful and guilty that the opportunity to wipe everything clean was an oasis in the dessert.
When I became a leader in the church, listening to the sin lists was a sad, yet secretly fascinating part of the conversion process. I heard all sorts of intimate details of the lives of these people who I had only just met. They would tell of drugs, sex, abortions, affairs and most times I was the only person they had ever divulged their secrets to. Just as I had been pulled into the church by guilt, I dragged others in the same way. For only 10% of your monthly paycheck and an additional annual donation of 20% of your income you would be accepted into God’s kingdom and a filthy sinner no more.
After being a zealous leader in the church for more than six years, I knew that with those two words, “I’m gay”, I would ruffle a lot of feathers. However, I had no idea exactly how ugly it would get.
“Don’t worry honey,” my husband consoled in response to my brave confession. He rested a condescending hand on my shoulder like Jesus to a lowly beggar. Even his other hand completes the imitation with a graceful sweep of his upturned palm. “We’ll get you help. We’ll get through this.”
“I don’t want help. I am gay and that’s not going to change. I’m tired of pretending and being ashamed of who I am. I think we need to separate, but I need some time to think.”
That Friday night, Omar was optimistic and thought this was just one more of my weak moments. In the morning when he saw that I was serious and was truly considering leaving him, he started to get angry. The tension in the house was thick and I needed some air to be alone with my thoughts. The next day I went to Ventura beach to try to clear my head and decide if I wanted to take the huge step of going out on my own in this huge city where I had few friends.
As I drove up to the peaceful town and looked out onto the tranquil ocean, I knew that I had already made my decision. The only thing I could think about was getting back to my babies and starting our new life together. I quickly drove back home and embraced my children. They needed me to be strong for them. Their elated faces when I walked through the door reassured me that I was making the right decision.
When we missed church on Sunday for the first time ever, the leaders came to our house to talk to us. I did not want to talk to them and I stayed in my room while Omar told them what was going on. I knew that they would be back and I did not want to be there when they returned.
I needed to find a place where my kids and I could begin again. I instantly found a small studio guest house to rent and I stayed there by myself the first night. The floor was hard and cold as I only had a couple of blankets for a bed, yet it was the most joyous night of my life. I was finally free.
The next day, I returned to my apartment for my kids, and just as I was about to leave, the leaders of the church drove up unannounced. My stomach dropped. I was not looking forward to this conversation. This was a common tactic that even I had used to try to talk to members of the church who were trying to leave in an effort to keep them from walking away. I knew exactly what they were doing because I had done it before.
I reluctantly agreed to talk with them, hoping that I could show them how determined I was to move on with my life. Over the course of our discussion, I felt the pressure building. Unexpectedly, Omar admitted that he had been unfaithful to me several times throughout our eight-year marriage. He told me for the first time in front of the leaders that early in our marriage he had had relationships with men and women from his work numerous times. This took me as a complete surprise and left me in a state of shock. Coming out of the closet was difficult enough without dealing with the pain of the betrayal of my best friend through some of the happiest times of our marriage.
I felt an overwhelming sorrow and the world around me went dull. I felt like I was in a deep well and I could only see blurry images of people from afar, speaking in muffled voices. The church leaders told me it would be best if I stayed with them for a few days so they could take care of me and help me through this difficult time. I numbly said goodbye to my babies and got into the car with them. They took me to their apartment in Hollywood and I cried for three days. At the leader’s apartment, they had bible studies with me and told me how great of a testament of faith it would be if I forgave Omar and chose to return to my life with him. I knew that if I could hold true to my decision in the midst of the very leaders I once respected and served, then I would be certain that my heart was leading me towards the truth.
I asked them when I could go home. I didn’t think it was fair that I had been taken away from my kids when Omar was just as guilty of homosexual sin as I was. They informed me firmly that I could go back to my kids when I changed my mind and decided to go back to church. I was trapped. It was that second that I knew that I had to fight for my life and my kids. I put all of my clothes into my garbage bag and told them I was going to do laundry. Instead, I picked up my kids and took them to the store to start setting up our new home. I was finally one hundred percent sure that I was making the right decision.
It’s been three years now and there isn’t a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t cherish my freedom. From my first gay pride to my first time walking down the street holding a girl’s hand, every moment is beautiful for me. How relieved I am to know that I do not have a horrid disease that needs to be cured, or a dreadful past to be ashamed of. In my search for spiritual guidance, I was misguided and taken advantage of, yet it was not too late for me to choose the right path. The divine love I was seeking came from deep inside of me as I finally learned to accept my true self.