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Queer & Christian

About today’s show

While homosexuality and Christianity are often incompatible, there are many people who must navigate both. In this episode, Michael hosts a panel discussion with 3 queer men who grew up in the Christian faith. They are sharing their experiences in the church including how they came to terms with their sexuality. 

Even if you don’t consider yourself religious or spiritual, their stories will inspire you and illustrate that despite our differences, we have more in common than you think.   

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Transcripts

Hello everyone. And welcome to gay men going deeper. This is a podcast series by the gay men’s brotherhood, where we talk about personal development, mental health, and sexuality today. I’m your host, Michael DRL. And I am really excited today to be sharing the screen and sharing the platform today with some amazing guys who are going to share their experiences with being gay or queer rather.

And Christian. So I’ll tell you a little bit about why I wanted to do this podcast and what I’ve noticed in the gay men’s brotherhood Facebook group is that there are a lot of people showing up. They’re telling us their stories, and a lot of people have a lot of religious background. So they’ve had to navigate their journey as a queer person with this religious backdrop.

And I think it’s very interesting. Another thing is that I’ve had clients in my own practice that have come from a variety of different religious backgrounds, and yet, despite the differences in those religions, they all share a very similar kind of story. And so I thought today would be a very nice opportunity to give three people an opportunity to share what their personal journeys have been.

So if you’re not Christian, if you’re not religious, this will still be very, very valuable for you today because I do genuinely believe that every perspective that we get to hear in somebody else’s journey gives us an opportunity to find that inspiration, find the wisdom that we can apply in our own journey. Okay. So something for the record for a jump in,

I do not identify personally with any kind of specific religion. I did grow up Catholic. I went to Catholic school until I was 18. So I have had to deal with my baggage in that regard. But today, you know, I might show them, I might show them in a little bit about that here and there. But today I consider myself to be a spiritual seeker and I continue to evolve every day in my understanding of what spirituality means to me.

So I, by no means have anything figured out nor nor do I want to actually, I kind of like being open to the journey and the process and my personal belief on religion on unstructured or organized religion, is that sure. It can be a really great thing when it’s used to align with your true self without shame or judgment. So I’m, I’m not for,

or against religion in any way before we jump in, I have a few caveats. This podcast episode is not a debate about being for or against religion of any kind. Another thing I want to mention is that we have got three guys who graciously agreed to give us their time today and reminding us all that this is simply just a sharing circle style podcast episode.

They’re not here to represent an entire religion and nor nor should they they’re here simply to share their own personal unique experiences. So we’re not trying to paint an entire religion with one brush. And also it’s important to note that there are many, I can’t even count as, as I was doing research, many, many different religions out there in the world.

And all those experiences are just as valid and just as important to share. But today we only have an hour and we’ve, we’ve got these lovely three guys here and I found them just for some background. I put out a post on my, on my Instagram asking for people who have had, I think I asked, did you grow up in a religious environment?

You know, I want to talk to you if you did. And I got a bunch of people who replied back, these are three of them. And so once we got to chatting and I started hearing about their different experiences, I thought, you know what? This really needs to be a podcast episode, the format today, because we’ve got three peeps here is we’re going to do this in a panel style,

like a panel discussion style. So we’re going to get to hear from each of them first, we’re going to start with letting them introduce themselves so that you guys get a chance to get to know them. And then we’ll talk a little bit about growing up, coming out, some challenges they face. And then by the end of it, we’re, we’re going to share a little bit of wisdom and advice along the way.

Okay. So without further ado, let’s start off with Matthew. Matthew, tell us a little bit about yourself and a little bit about the religion that you grew up with for the listeners out there who may not be familiar. Sure. So my name’s Matthew, hi, 46. I live in Lincoln, Vermont. I’m the director of the main call center for the Vermont department of health COVID response.

And it’s basically maintains all of the information for COVID. And if you ever requested, let me know. I can tell you everything about it. I also own a bed and breakfast here in Vermont because that’s something, you know, all gay men do is we own bed and breakfast in Vermont. And I’m also the music director at the local United church of Lincoln.

So that’s basically everything about me as far as work is concerned. And it really like religious background. I’m from, what’s called the American Baptist tradition. And that’s the what’s considered a main line denomination. If you know what that means. You can look that up if you don’t. They split in the 1840s with Southern Baptists over slavery and pretty much anything to do with soul freedom.

So that’s why we’re part of the American Baptist tradition. And that tradition is mainly rooted in social justice, racial, sexual, all of those things. It just gets lost a lot in the media outlets and whatnot that are out there. And even I, when I hear the word Baptist behind someone’s name, I immediately cringe. Cause I knew it was something was coming.

So most Baptist churches are pretty autonomous and pretty free as is ours. And we moved here. My parents, myself, my sister, when I was very young and my dad was the pastor. He came here for that purpose and they’re pretty liberal, pretty progressive. That’s who they are. Our churches mixed with United Methodist, American Baptist. And we have,

as far as the nominations go, congregational, Unitarian Presbyterian and Anglican Catholic, we even have a lovely Jewish couple that stops in all the time. They’re just wonderful because it’s a small community. So in this small community, that’s sort of that space that allows people to question and that’s, what’s important for us. There’s definitely troubles on occasion and there’s people that have left,

but as our current pastor would say, they always can find a place we’re here for those who don’t have a place. And that’s our, that’s why we’re here. And we want a place where people can question any questions they want. Yeah, I think that’s about it. Awesome. Thank you so much, Matthew, for introducing yourself. Okay. Let’s go over to a DRL.

I thank you for having me here. My name is Gerald. I’m 31 years old. I’m an attorney and also a life coach and I’m living in Trinidad. My developments in Christianity. It really started from young. Like I think about maybe 15, 16 years old. I grew up in the church and I’m sorry if you’re hearing construction about girls. Yeah.

So my development in the church, it really started with a friend of mine, invited me to church and you know, one thing led to another and all of a sudden I’m going three times a week, but really w later on, I discovered that the reason why I, I guess, loved church so much was because it gave me the opportunity to hide my secret.

And my secret was my sexuality. And growing up on looking back, I saw that I use religion as a crutch and it gave me the opportunity to not really focus on what I was trying to hide, but more so focused on who I could become. It was a burden because in the church you can be anything. You can be a rapist, it could be a murderer.

You could thieve, it can be anything, but don’t be gay. And although explicitly, that was not what was sadden you. It was some thing that you could have bleed them seen because of how they would treat certain people. And, you know, that really impacted my psyche, but I always thought to myself, I wouldn’t have that to focus on as long as I abide by the rules.

So growing up, there was a huge element of shame. And there was the fact that I used it religion and I used it to, I guess, advance myself as far as I can because people only see the spiritual aspect. They wouldn’t see the gain as, so I definitely would say that, bring up, I use religion as a crutch because I don’t think I mentioned that I grew up in the Pentecostal church.

So it was the laying of hands speaking in tongues, ruling on the ground. All of that. We loved it. I, I think up to, I still identify with some aspects of it, but yeah, I think I’ll save them for later on. Yeah. That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that story. Jarell. Definitely looking forward to getting more into it.

Okay, Justin, let’s go over to you. Hi, my name is Justin oversea and I’m just kinda taking a minute to process with drill said, cause I can relate so much to what he said. I grew up actually like you might go. I grew up Catholic. My father was Catholic. My mother was raised a form of Baptist, but once to Catholic church and then he got really sick with cancer.

And when he got sick, he stopped going to Catholic church as much. My mother started playing piano for a Southern Baptist church. So I started going to that church, which was a huge difference. You know, hands raising shouting. It’s like what is going on? Opposed to the quiet, you know, meditative Catholic side. But when my father died,

I, I left what we call public school here in America and actually went into a Christian school and it was independent Baptist. So that’s another one. And that was really strict uniforms, girls and skirts. If you were too much makeup, you were probably going to be a whore crazy. So I left that high school and went into a Christian college,

which was what they call fundamental Baptist. And so as I went through school trained to be some sort of, kind of like a pastor minister and then later on, went and became a youth director for a small time. And while I was a youth director, of course I was closeted. I started doing kind of privately. I started doing repairative therapy or conversion therapy to fix this gayness.

And then after I graduated from the fundamental Christian college, I went into another church was more evangelical and it was called sovereign grades, which one of the was Joshua Harris who is now deconstructed in a completely different place now. But I attended that. So, and after that I just stopped church altogether. I became more, I would say agnostic, but recently in the past 10 years,

I’ve kind of come upon the teachings of Richard Rohr who would probably call himself more of a mystic. He was a Franciscan priest. So those teachings really healed me. So I would say I kind of now in the past three years are leaning more towards that mystic type teachings, but we can get more into that later, but happy to be here. Oh,

I didn’t say, I didn’t say who I was. I’m a therapist, sorry, I’m a therapist. A full-time I’d have a private practice. And then I live in Santa Barbara, California. Awesome. Yeah. And you know what already, you guys have such a unique perspectives and unique backgrounds yet. You know, I, I can already sense that there’s,

there’s a lot of resonating going on. Like we’re, we’re all nodding our heads like, oh yeah, that sounds familiar. And even me growing up in the Catholic faith, that sense of shame I had, or not, not feeling worthy because, you know, once I realized, oh, I’m gay. Not that I even knew that, that word,

I didn’t even have that language, but I just knew I was different and it wasn’t good. I knew that I had an attraction for men and that was just not a good scene. And I felt so much shame. Like I was broken, I was wrong. And of course, you know, as a kid, you want your family and friends to love you and you think that,

or at least I thought they’re not going to, what’s going to happen to me. They’re going to kick me out. Like, you know, I was so scared and that kept me in the closet for, for a long time. So on that note, let’s talk about coming out. The, what I want to hear is how did your upbringing impact your coming out process?

So let’s start with you Matthew. So like I said, my dad’s was the pastor here in Lincoln and two things about that one, which I kind of touched on. Both of my parents were very loving, very affirming, very open. They’re perfectly fine with all of this and always have been, and certainly were a lot sooner than I ever was.

That being said, when we moved here, our church burned actually the year after we got here, but it galvanized the town in a way and put so much energy into it that we moved to church. We developed senior housing, we developed a historical society, built a new library, all sorts of stuff, which we were all kind of a part of.

It was really cool. But as a preacher’s kid, if anyone is a preacher’s kid, it is, it’s a very different experience. So it’s very fishbowl. Like you, you are watched, you are evaluated, you are judged. So while my parents were, would have been fine, I was not. So I was not shoved into a closet by a bunch of people at church.

I literally walked into that closet myself and dressed that way because I wanted to be the best preacher’s kid preacher’s son that I could be for my parents. And then the process of that, that influenced where I went to school, which was listening to Justin. I thought, oh God, that’s exactly where they went because I went to a little Christian liberal arts school because I thought that was a great idea to search and to question what this was,

because I just figured it was part of puberty and some sort of switch would click and, you know, you’d move on, which it didn’t. And it was more of a indoctrination process in college than anything else. And so it just kind of pushed it further and further and further in. Yeah. So that’s where that ended up. And I finally just was holding on so tightly to quote unquote,

my persona, that everything was just falling apart. Just school was falling apart. Life was falling apart. All of it ended up coming home, no degree, which was fine. And I was sitting watching, they’re not watching, I was playing a video game, mass effect of all things has a gay theme in it. And I’m sitting there and I’m planning this because I’m trying to just get my mind to stop thinking.

And I played this gay theme and I’m like, oh my gosh, this video game is having a better life than I am. And so I decided, okay, I need to change something. And this is not what God would have wanted for me. It’s just not the life that I I should be having. And so at that point, I wonder therapy and we discussed this and figured out all this stuff ended up coming out to my parents.

Unfortunately it was the day I decided to come out. My sister came out the day, but an hour before I did. So I decided to wait a couple of months so that my parents had a little time to re process, but it was wonderful. It was once it was done, everything lifted, everything changed. Yeah. I think that’s a bit about it,

but the faith never left for me. I never had that issue. So once it was there, I just, it was literally just like this tiny atom of, of light. And it just was like, oh, I just need to sit here and I just need to listen. That’s all. And that was it. Yeah. That’s beautiful. And so Matthew,

how old were you? I’m sorry? How old were you when you came out? Oh, when I came out probably 36, I think it was a long time because I went straight from this college into jumping into this bed and breakfast thing with my parents. And so nothing, I just kept moving faster and faster and faster. And so finally in my mid thirties,

I think was when I finally said, okay, this has got to stop because I was on anti-depressants and, and all sorts of stuff. And once that changed, I was fine. I didn’t need anything. That’s amazing. Some sometimes it’s just about acknowledging the truth within you. And then a lot of these stresses melt away or they maybe change. But you know,

we, we talk a lot about authenticity on this podcast and how much courage that takes. It sounds so nice, but oftentimes authenticity really requires a lot of discomfort. And then that proves that. Yeah. Okay. Thank you, Matthew drum. Let’s talk to you. Okay. Thank you. Yeah, so I, I think I’ll have to maybe separate my coming out process in like two parts.

So first part would be me coming out to myself. That would be at the age of maybe 26, a friend of mine who I really looked up to in a church. He lived in Memphis and he, we wanted to go to a Christian conference. So he was like in the one, take a plane ticket, get over here, let’s go to the conference.

And I was a staunch Christian at that point. And I think at that point I was trying to figure out, you know, what is going on with my sexuality. So everything was kind of like up in the air at that point, but I still wasn’t really affirming meaning I didn’t believe that it was okay to be queer and V whatever. So it turns out that my friend,

who I looked up to, he actually came out to me and he was my first example of what it means to be or what it means to have sexuality intertwine with spirituality. And it was very, very strange for me because I’ve never seen that, you know, back when I was growing up eatery on MTV and you see the depiction of what a gay person would look like to me,

it really wasn’t that attractive because it really wasn’t what I was into. But I thought being gay or being queer meant that it had to look like this there isn’t. And in kind of like representation of, you know, someone who could be spiritual and, you know, still be queer as well. And, you know, he was an example for me and he was a great example and I spent a month with him living with him and he really changed my mind.

And that’s when I really came out to myself. And when I had actually had to come out to my parents, I wouldn’t even say I have to come out. I was more dragged out. And, and it happened because I, my mom, she found a book. The name of it is God, on a gay Christian by Manchu vines. I was actually reading the book and she found the book and that entailed an entire discussion.

I put discussion very likely because for contacts, you know, I’m black, I’m queer and I’m living in the Caribbean. So that’s a triple mommy. So I had those three things going against me and I really had to, thankfully, I’m a very, I’m a planner. So when I came out to my stuff, I’m like, okay, how are we doing this?

We need to figure out a plan from day one. So I have been, I was preparing myself mentally, emotionally at that point. And it’s very, very tragic that people need to plan, you know, things like this in the eventuality. What if my parents reject me? What if I get kicked out? You know, it’s sad that you have to,

but that’s reality. That’s the reality. So yeah, my coming out process because of Christianity, it was very difficult and I still find myself having to almost defend myself and what I stand for. But yeah, it’s been a journey. Unfortunately, it’s been a rough one, but I really wouldn’t change anything about it because it’s given me some backbone it’s given me muscles.

I didn’t, I didn’t that have, and, but yeah, it it’s it’s, it was a tough process. And I would say that religion has made it a lot more harder than it should have been. Thank you. Thank you. Drill, you know, for a lot of what you say resonates with me as well, in terms of the,

I think that the challenge at the time, I thought it was the worst thing in the world being gay. And then of course having this Catholic Italian family, but now looking back, I’m like, if I didn’t have to go through that, I wouldn’t even be where, where I am today. And I think, you know, we can, all,

we can all say that, not just the four of us here, but anyone listening to this. So it’s an important reminder that whatever challenges that we’re facing even today, regardless of what it is, is, is really the curriculum for the next evolution of our growth. Okay. Thank you. Troll Justin. Let’s hear from you let’s hear your, your coming out story and how Christianity impacted that.

Yeah. Ah, gosh, everything Terrail Matthew said, it’s so good. This is a really good conversation and drill pointed a little bit on representation, which kind of bleeds into my stories. I didn’t, I grew up in a rural, suburban town outside of Atlanta, Georgia, and I didn’t know anyone growing up that was LGBTQ or that was out.

And even in school, I, I had no mirror. This is what I would call it. So it was really difficult. There was no guidebook, no how to bring it up or say it. But I knew there was something different with me at the age of five in kindergarten. I remember having a crush on a boy at school and we were really close and we hold hands on the playground.

And then kids started laughing at us and kind of would poke fun and say, they’re in love. And I’m like, yeah, like I was five. I was like, love is great. But that kid got embarrassed and bit me on the face. I’ll never forget. He hit me on my cheek. And of course parents and the principal, everyone had to get involved.

But I remember just being so confused why he was mad at me or me. And I think there’s a little part of me then that just kind of was like, I need to keep this inside, but it didn’t really come back out until puberty high school and unplanned. I fell in love with a guy in high school at my high school, which was again,

independent Christian, a Baptist. And so that was very private, very under radar. And then when I got into college, I released that relationship and focused on ministry, what I want to become, what it’s telling me to become and what is right. And then I, I, I drank the Kool-Aid and I had various leadership roles at the school and it was in Greenville,

South Carolina. And so I was a hall leader and I was a society fraternity. They call it, they call them societies, president and all this stuff. And I had guys on my hall that were hot as fuck. And they, you know, they’d walk around with their shirts off and, you know, talk and they, you know, it was guys dorms guys and girls lived separately.

So I mean all the, all the military. And I remember just thinking like, I’ve got this problem. I gotta do something about this. So that’s when I started kind of doing more conversion therapy stuff, but I had to talk to my parents at that point, my mom and my stepdad, and they were so sweet and kind, and they didn’t really know what to do either about it.

So they, more or less kind of listened to me. And I was like, I need to do conversion therapy. I need to do this because that’s at the time, that’s what I thought I had to do. I felt it could be gay, was very wrong with my then identity at the time and what I was surrounded by. So it was kind of like a little coming out.

Then I would say that was probably 18 or 19. But when I got into my twenties, after I graduated from college, I met a guy and we moved in together, kind of was a roommate situation, but just fell for each other. And that started a actual, a span of 10 year relationship. And I would bring him home to see my parents.

They, they fell in love with him, took him holidays with my grandparents and aunts and uncles. And so kind of was integrated in, but it wasn’t until, and I thought everything was good. Like it was kind of an understanding, but it wasn’t until my late twenties. So my grandfather passed away and he was actually an independent Baptist preacher. I didn’t add that.

But he was so he that’s kind of the family framework, but everyone was so accepting of my partner at the time. It just felt, felt like it was somewhat normalized. But when he died, before walked down the aisle for his funeral, my partner was with me. I was asked kind of from the family, for my partner, not to sit with me at the funeral.

And that was really kind of thrown off by that. And at that time I didn’t, I don’t like conflict. So I just went with it to my partner, sat with another friend in the back during the funeral. But afterwards I remember talking to my mother a little bit about it, and I think she had felt, I wasn’t really out to some of the family members and she didn’t want the funeral to be that Justin’s out kind of the thing.

And I was like, oh, so I wrote a letter to my family, just so that everyone’s on the same page. Didn’t know this, this wasn’t really known. Maybe it was questioned, but I’m gay. And this is my partner. And this is kind of how it is. And I gotta say it was not received. Well, it was really difficult.

Yeah. With some, some other family members. And I recently, and even now that was my late twenties. I’m 36 now, but recently I just got engaged to my now partner. And there was a lot of family members that were very silent and, you know, and that’s fine. And, and, and my partner’s family too, he comes from a similar background,

very silent and silence speaks louder than words sometimes. So it’s, that’s difficult. So this religion, this, this, you know, belief system is still kind of very present in both of our lives. So it’s interesting to be here now talking about it because this is still very prevalent and exist and affects us deeply. But my coming out was kind of in spurts and it was good at some points and it was not so good,

but I’m really glad I’m here. And now I’ve dedicated my life to helping this community to be a mirror, to be representative of something different that can be somewhat religious Christian, however you want to identify, but also be queer or a part of the LGBTQ beautiful umbrella and spectrum of, of identities. I probably went over three minutes. Okay. Yeah,

that’s fine. It’s a fascinating story. And actually, well, first of all, congratulations on your, on your engagement. That’s awesome. Great news. I have a couple of questions. So if I may, so did you send that letter, or did you write that letter during the, like at the funeral or in that It was after I went back home and then I was like,

how can I communicate to everyone without being interrupted because my bed south and be fully so they can have something that they can go back to and reread. And the only way I knew to do it was in some sort of a written letter. So that’s kinda what led me to that. Yeah. Yeah. I think written letters are very powerful way to do it as similar to you come from a loud Italian family where,

I mean, I’m the youngest, so I barely get a word in edgewise and I’m, I’m, you know, I would always say it’s so much easier for me to write down what I want to say very mindfully deliberately. And then that way, if they have any questions, they can come to me after that. So good for you. Exactly.

Yeah. I left the door open for that and some of them used it. Wow. It was, it was really tough, but that, that was an important moment. And I think every queer person on that spectrum has to, we have to experience it. Sadly, we don’t have rituals or initiations into this walk of life. Kind of our coming out has to be that,

and it’s painful. It’s horrible, but there is light at the end of that tunnel. I love the way you put that. Wouldn’t it be nice to know, like, wouldn’t have I loved to know at the beginning of this, like, oh, by the way, this is a ritual, this isn’t an initiation on here’s what’s going to be on the other side of that.

I would’ve really appreciated that heads up that I know another thing just didn’t. So I wasn’t clear, did you end up going to conversion therapy? Did your parents agree to do that during that? Yeah, I did. I did. I even did like an at-home program where I had, like, I had to call in and I had listened to tapes and I had to read certain books and write papers and,

and they, I presented it to my parents. Like, I think this is the answer to fix this so that I can get back into what I thought was going to be like this sort of like full-time Christian ministry service thing, but what’s so fucking crazy. Sorry. I keep dropping the F bomb. Is that, is that in my mind or in those certain aspects of religion that they’re separated,

you can’t be LGBTQ and religious. Like there was the separation because of MIS conceptions and, you know, painful and violent hermeneutics coming out from those scriptures. And it’s now looking back, I’m like, God, how fucking ridiculous. But I think we’re finally getting somewhere where that’s changing. There’s more literature, there’s more access. We have more scholars and people that are dedicating their life to this work,

trying to fix this horrible result of colonization, but that’s for another podcast. I’m sure. But yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, and I think the other piece is you guys here right now, right? So there are people out there listening to us right now who are going to find inspiration in residents with everything that you guys are saying. And I think that helps as well.

I think sharing, sharing our stories, bringing them to light coming out of the dark, you know, shame as they say, shame grows in the darkness. Right. So I think what you guys are doing here has to acknowledge as well. So thank you again. Okay. Let’s talk about some more unique challenges. So, you know, you guys all sit at that intersection of a religious upbringing and the queer community.

So let’s talk a little bit about, about the unique challenge that you face in that regard. And we’ll start with you, Matthew. This was a tricky question because the, Th Th the there’s one main challenge, and then there’s lots of tiny little ones everywhere that happened all the time. But the, I, I guess I’ll just jump in with a big one that I was thinking of and how did I write it?

It’s the sheer gap of knowledge between those not just in the gay community, but our proponents of it, and those who are on the complete opposite end of the spectrum there, that, that lack of knowledge, that just doesn’t seem to exist and they choose not to pursue it. I’m more than happy. And I have wonderful atheist, friends and agnostic and Buddhist and all sorts of things,

but they’ve done their homework. You know, they they’ve done their homework. They know where they stand. They know where they exist. It’s the folks who just choose to be quite ignorant and that’s, and then where I find my place in that challenge is then maintaining a certain amount of patience and kindness and openness to allow for them to just sort of spew that while they get to a point where they actually are listening.

And sometimes that takes hours, days, months, years, and it might never happen. But that’s definitely where I find my unique space in that, because I see it on a regular basis. It’s not just in a church, it’s in a community community, it’s in the school board meetings, it’s in the elections and it’ll get to use as a,

as a bludgeon all the time. So I think that’s really where it is. Yeah. Very, very well said. Thank you. Okay. DRL actually, and you can speak to another element of the intersectionality that we talked about. So I’m very curious to hear what, what you have to say. Well, well, I, I think about this quite a lot actually,

and the reason why is because again, as I said earlier, there isn’t any really blueprint for me to follow. So I have to now take various elements from different places, try to mesh it together and try to make it make sense and apply to me. So looking back at what I’ve been through as a Christian, I have to say to myself,

okay, which one of these elements, or which of these principles make sense to me? Because there’s a lot of things that, you know, you go to church and you just have to go with the crowd and you have to basically just, you know, whatever is going on or whatever they’re saying, you have to agree. Now, this is not something that they tell you,

but you know, when you begin to veer off on having your own opinions, you begin to be ostracized. David, there comes the comments of, oh, let me create a few. It looks like a go into a struggle. There is no sense of individuality. And now I’m where I’m almost, I want to say I’m free from the religious shackles,

just being queer. It allows me to be myself. Now I have to now see exactly which parts I want to adopt moving forward in my life. It’s given me a lot of freedom because I would call myself a little bit, I would say I’m most spiritual than religious, very universal. Now I see now that you’re in different shoots, you know,

there’ve been other religion or the practices. So not like things like meditation and yoga, breathing, tapping, you know, I’ve, I’ve found a way to mix it all together as well with my sexuality in the picture as well. And I think that’s why I love coaching so much because there are people in my church still to this very day who are queer.

And they’re realizing that this is a burden to carry, you know, it’s wearing them out. It’s, they’re, they’re realizing nothing is changing. Nothing is happening and, you know, bit by bit, some would message me. And, you know, I would begin to guide them and coach them. And just as a friend and show them the path that I’m paving in my own life and say,

you know, I’m not telling you, this is what you need to do, but this is what works for me, you know? And Dave taken this advice and they’ve thrived. So really the challenge for me was just trying to be the example that I needed in my life when I was growing up and living truthfully and authentically as much as I could.

And yeah, just being honest with myself and realizing my limits on I’m just human. I’m not supposed to have it altogether because in Christianity is the black hole white right. Or wrong. But as you grew older, you realize that life are beautiful shades of gray. So it’s up to us now to add meaning to those shades of gray and just that trust that universe or God,

or whoever you believe is going to make it all make sense in the end. Yeah. Very, very well said. And I couldn’t agree more, you know, you’ve, you’ve turned your, your struggle into a beautiful thing to inspire others. And, and that’s one of the things I love about coaching is, you know, I always say the thing,

like I don’t have it all figured out, but I am totally happy sharing what I’ve learned on my journey. Even if I’m like one step ahead of you on this journey and share with you a Hey, here’s what happened with me? You know, use, use that to, to help you out. Right. And then that’s a little bit about what we’re doing here.

So thank you, Tara. Thank you so much. Okay, Justin, let’s talk about intersectionality and the challenge that you faced. Gosh, I mean the intersection is that they both don’t exist from cultural standards. So the battle with that is that they can, and they do. And someone along the lines separated it for particular reasons. So what the battle’s been for me in,

in regard to now and what I see coming in my, my doors and speaking with people is there’s a lot of people who are depressed and anxious all the time within the LGBTQ community. And so we talk about three things about happiness and it’s usually relationships. What are your relationships look like in your life? What’s your vocation, what’s your calling? And the third is spirituality.

And almost across the board with every LGBTQ person I work with that they don’t want to talk about spirituality, or they’ve kind of got their crystals and they’ve got their meditation, which is great, but that’s about it. So what I’ve noticed is within this culture, this gay culture, we have substituted spirituality for having a hot body drugs, drinking bars, circuit parties,

go do it. It’s fine, but we’ve substituted something. So there needs to be sort of like this reform reclaiming of what true spirituality is. Now. We also don’t have a whole lot of role models. So we need to find them. They are out there. You just have to find them and learn. We, as far as the gay community,

we haven’t really had anyone who’s been very wise or mature in the spirituality sections to kind of guide us and help us. So the battle really is finding it. Now, if you look through the historical lens, LGBTQ people across the board, historically, we were the shamans. We were the healers. We were the leaders, especially in native American culture.

Beautiful. And of course, when it was colonized, their heads were cut off. We were erased. So I, I come from this, it’s actually in our genetic makeup as LGBTQ people to have a unique spiritual character characteristic about us. So when I hear people like Jarell and Matthew and talking about their spirituality, what they’re discovering, that gives me hope.

Like we’re actually trying to channel it and develop it and create it. And we really need to kind of come in and reform this. I don’t know if I even answered the question. I know that that’s great. And yeah, I didn’t even know that actually, Justin, so, you know, thank you for, for sharing that didn’t know the history there with respect to the shamanism and mysticism and,

and how that was a race. I mean, that’s so fascinating and it definitely had a hidden note there for me. So thank you for, for that. You know, when it comes to spirituality and religion, you know, I, I said at the top of our podcasts that I do consider myself one of those spiritual, not religious, which is I hear that all the time.

But for me it makes sense. Like, you know, because of my Catholic upbringing, I learned early on to throw the whole thing away. And for a long time, anytime the word God was mentioned, or anytime I go to a wedding or a funeral, which is the only time I set foot in church, I just kind of go, yeah,

here we go. Whatever. But as I developed my spirituality kind of, I kind of put religion over here and spirituality here, but what I’m learning is that in fact, there’s a lot more overlap than I perhaps gave a credit for. And there are so many things that I look back at now, like teachings that I would’ve learned about in school.

And I think to myself, well, I get what they’re saying now, but the way it was the way it was just not accessible to me as, as a kid, not at all. Like, but as I look at it now with different eyes, I’m like, Hey, you know what? The saints of back in the day were just life coaches,

right? They were, they were doing that, you know, authenticity alignment, helping people go through their, their challenges, find greater peace of mind, whatever it is. And so I’ve softened to religions of all kinds, not just Catholic, but I’d like to find the, what, you know, the little nugget that unifies us. I think religion on its finest state can,

can unite us. And then on its not so fine to stay, could divide us in ways that is not fun as we’ve seen throughout history. Okay. Let’s go on to our next question, which is looking back. So we’ve done, we spent a little bit of time looking back at our past, coming out stories and challenges. I want to talk about how your Christian upbringing has impacted the man you are today.

So let’s talk a little bit about that. We’ll start with Matthew. Okay. So I would add a little bit, not really hard, but I just was thinking when Justin mentioned is that we are all those role models that we are looking for because we might not have had them, but we had certain ones that we did find eventually, but we are those that need to be those role models now to others.

And it, and that’s how strangely enough that’s how religion start. But any case, as far as the impact and impact for me was enormous. Still is little quick, small things. One on the negative side, I still catch myself pleasing time to time choosing to stay quiet when I probably should be standing up on the positive side. I love being part of a church that’s open and affirming.

Having a place you can bounce questions in is really great and it’s rare, but it’s great. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but it’s a great place for me. That’s, that’s, what’s important because it’s it’s, for me, it’s an outlet for my creativity, seeing all those sorts of things, connection to my past and history. My,

my family has an enormous history. In regards to the Baptist church, we actually helped found it in Rhode Island. So there there’s just a ton of that that goes through. And I love those connections when you can find them, let’s see here. It just adds, brings up. Let’s see here, Connect to pass history. Seeing changes I have made brings others closer to their own authentic selves,

whether that’s within the church or not. Cause it might not be for them. That’s perfectly fine. Keeping that faith is showing me. There is so much more to life that we see every day. There’s a depth and dimensions and mysteries that are for us to fully embrace. Never be afraid to ask questions. I keep hearing his voice. I should say her voice because we’ve been trying to make sure that that gender inclusivity within our group is,

is important after learning something. And after I’ve learned something, I just hear the voice saying, yeah, but wait till you see this. And I, and I love that and just to embrace every new creation so that that’s where I am now. Yeah. That’s beautiful. So it’s a, it’s a great part of your journey and am inspired by all of that.

So thank you. Okay. Darell, let’s hear from you. Well, I definitely, I would say that the impact of Christianity still, I think it will forever stay with me growing up in the church. I’ve seen so many different things good and bad, but thankfully the good old ways to bad. So there are lessons and there are principles that I’ve learned that forever.

Stay with me. For instance, the Apollo of spoken words, I’ve always one habit that I’ve always kept was declaring certain things over myself. And I’ve seen these things, amazing things happen because of certain principles that have chosen to, we call them affirmations. I guess keep the, you know, like just saying, I’m going to be successful. I’m going to be powerful.

I am love, I am the manifestation of my ancestor’s greatest dreams, all of these different, different affirmations, you know, that do they teach in the church, I’ve kept and I’ve seen these things beautifully transpiring my life. So that’s one thing, learning how to love people, regardless of who they are. You know, Christians are supposed to be known for their love.

Unfortunately I believe right on par with judgment. But love is one of the biggest things that, you know, the word the scripture teaches. And it’s one of the things that I’ve held on. So tight, just loving without restrictions, without conditions. You know, that’s one thing also Christianity, I think the biggest takeaway would be, it gave me the unshakable belief that in my very short life I can achieve almost anything,

not almost anything, anything that I put my mind to. And I have big dreams, big dreams to help LGBT LGBTQ plus people in the Caribbean dreams to serve people. I think that’s where my heart is. I, my deepest core, I love serving people. So Christianity has given me a place to cultivate all of these things. And even though I don’t think I would be part of any church organization anytime soon,

because I’m still working out some traumas attached to that. I definitely love the fact that I have these principles to work with because not everyone gets these principles and it impacted me to be who I am today. And I’m absolutely in love with who I am right now. And it’s taken me such a long while to get there, but I’m really happy with how my life has turned out.

I mean, when I was younger, I thought I’m married and have kids and the white picket fence, just typical American dream in the Caribbean that ad hound. But you know, life is, it has taken me on a complete 180 on what I thought was gonna happen. And I have to say that, although I’m not exactly where I want to be.

I see my life very in that direction. So I’m so excited. I get up every day excited about life. Like, what am I going to do? What is next on my agenda? You know, in Christianity, there’s this concept of the holy spirit, I guess he goes by different names and other faiths, but I get up every morning and I’m like,

okay, God, what are we going to do today? So I still have that personal relationship. I believe with God, even though I don’t go with any organized religion, why my religion, I mean my church structure. Yeah. So I still have those spiritual aspects and it still guides me. It still centers me. I still keep my daily rituals in the sense that when I wake up in the morning,

I spent like 30 minutes just in gratitude, meditation, prayer. And then I still have, for my end date, that centers might be so much. And yeah, just those principals that have taken and adopted in my life. And I try to get people to as much as they can to have that spiritual core because you are a spiritual being as well.

And yeah. So I think that’s where I’m at right now. Yeah. And that’s a beautiful place to be. That’s also very inspirational. And, you know, as, as both Matthew and Joel, as you’re speaking, I’m thinking like, you know what, like when I do, I use affirmations as well, I’m thinking that is just another version of a prayer,

you know? And, and you know, same as you drill, I get up every morning and I have this, you know, gratitude for having another day. And it’s just something that I’ve developed over time. And I like to get outside and go be with nature. And I’m thinking even that is my, like my find, my spiritual connection really comes out with nature and to see that.

But like, there’s so many different ways that again, you know, the way the religions that I learned growing up is did not teach me that I kind of had to discover that for myself and then say, oh, wait a minute. Maybe that’s what they were trying to say. So thank you for shedding light on that Nature. I sorry to interrupt,

but people with nature, what you were saying, when it practices I’ve learned, I think it wasn’t Eastern practice just to, you know, go outside barefoot foot in the grass and just take it all in. I nature is always speaking to us and these are things that we didn’t learn in the church, but these were practices that my ancestors would do.

So it’s very fun to learn different ways in connecting with the universe around you. And I think that’s my journey right now. Just discovering, there are many ways to connect with God, the universe, wherever you want to call it. But yeah, Yeah, many ways. And, and, and if you’re, if your way is through a structured,

organized religion. Great. So be it. If it’s not, that’s fine too. So thank you. Okay, Justin, let’s hear from you. Gosh, such a good question. And these are phenomenal answers for me, just, it did probably touch a little bit on both of their answers is it’s created a depth and it’s kind of like a,

and coming back into it, it’s kind of like a recovery of lost appreciation for the poetics of ordinary life. That’s kind of what it’s doing for me. And I think spirituality and having these practices and a belief can create kind of a deep intelligence, but also a sensitivity to things that are symbolic or even like things that are metaphoric in life. Things,

you go through relationships and, you know, just day to day activities, but also it can kind of create a genuine community with people and it can really help you be more attuned and attach to the part of the world that I think like nature, for example, that we just overlooked with the loudness. That’s kind of well said, short answer at this time.

Yeah, No, that’s good. That’s it short and sweet. Okay guys, one final question here for you in this one. I want you to direct too to the listeners out there. If you have any advice for our listeners out there who might be struggling to reconcile both their faith and their sexuality. So if you guys have any final words on that note,

I’ll start with you. Matthew. Well was definitely speaking good for myself. Definitely ask the questions, trust yourself, trust, you know, trust that inner God do lots of research and ask why. And if somebody just shuts you down by saying no, find someone else who’s going to help you get that actual answer and take your time. Get it right.

That’s pretty much all I have now. Yeah. Beautiful. Thank you. Draw. How about you? What, what advice would you have? I think my biggest advice would be so don’t feel pressure to get everything right. I think in Christianity, especially, we’re so plagued by the idea that we need to have everything, right? All the answers we need to be perfect.

You need everything, you know, because we don’t want to offend God. You know that God is this big guy with a stick and he’s just waiting for you to mess up. But I think what delivered me and I hate to speak Pentecostal lesions, but what delivered me from the mentality that I need everything right. Was just the fact that I realized that no matter what I did,

I offended someone. So I’m like, okay, let me just make my messages. And I’m going to trust that God’s going to clean up. I’m not going to be worried about what’s going to happen if I get it right. I’m just gonna go through the motions and see what happens. So my advice would be to don’t feel pressure to get, have everything correct.

Don’t be, feel pressured to Dutch your I’s and cross your T’s, you know, stumble. You’re gonna make mistakes. You’re gonna walk. It’s a difficult path. I’m not gonna lie you and you don’t need to make it any more harder than it already is by judging yourself and feeling bad for not having the correct responses to people or for not having all the answers.

So just take your time, take a deep breath walk. As far as your feet will go. If you want to take a break and sit down, have do that. I did that quite a lot, but eventually you’re going to find your way. We all do like one point and just trust the process. Everything will happen when it’s supposed to happen.

Don’t rush anything. Yeah. Thank you. Permission. Permission to get it wrong is one that I wish I do. And I still, I still have to give myself permission to be wrong in all kinds of ways in my life. So that’s a great one. Okay. Thank you, Justin. How about you? Yeah. For listeners out there that are really battling this or struggling with this,

and I wish I could have told myself this, you know, 10, 15 years ago would be that inherited religion that you come from may also still be a source of some sort of renewed spirituality. Anyone can become a Luther, a Buddha, or even a Jesus and be a reformer. So you don’t have to necessarily eliminate it from your life. You can change it,

you can reform it. And I do think our culture in general needs some theological reflection that does that doesn’t advocate like particular traditional values, but it can tend more to our soul and also just flat out spiritual direction. It’s almost unheard of. So I feel like we need to bring back to fruition in our lives. Just the hymn of the hymn of love.

Thank you. You know, you kind of triggered something. What I would have loved someone to tell me when I was, well, let’s say like, whatever age that is 13, 14, all that confusion. I was feeling all that shame. You know, the advice I’d give is, is give yourself permission to evolve within your faith. I know the faith doesn’t always do that.

And at least mine didn’t really give me much permission to evolve, but, you know, giving yourself to that and hopefully finding someone out there who can, who you can rely on as a mentor, as a support as a friend, family member, whoever that may be, that you can share this with right further to Matthew’s point about asking questions and then,

you know, giving yourself permission to personalize that, that faith. So, you know, I would’ve loved to be like, oh, you can be gay in Catholic. Oh, sweet, cool. Then maybe I wouldn’t have thrown the whole thing away. That would have been a very different journey for me, but instead I threw the whole thing away and then,

you know, permission to permission to get a wrong approach and to ask questions. All these things just permission to explore, I guess, is really what I would loved is, is permission to have this open container with which you can explore with someone in a way that feels safe. So that said, you know, here are three guys who I would feel very safe with having,

having met you very recently. I can have this discussion for hours, but for anyone out there who might want to contact you guys, let’s say someone’s out there and they are resonating with what you’re saying. And maybe they need a little bit of that role model that we talked about quickly tell us where people can find you and then we’ll start with you,

Matthew. Right. That’s me. So probably Instagram would be the easiest one to find. I think the handle is Moses, Mikey, M O S E S M I H Y K E. I know that’s confusing, but that’s what it is Moses Mikey, and it’s a, it’s a private account, but you’re certainly welcome to message me anytime for anything.

And if I don’t know the answer, I’ll send it to Justin or I’ll send it to, I don’t need to do it. Awesome. And I’ll put all these in the show notes as well. So yeah, don’t, don’t worry guys. I’ll, I’ll put all this in there. A drill. How about you? Where can people find you?

Okay. People can find me on Instagram. My URL would be instagram.com forward slash M U S I Q child, because that’s the music child’s ear. Is there a seven? And also they can email me, I guess, that be the more professional route. It’s Gerelle Peter’s J H E R R E L P E T R S. Zeros [email protected]

So, you know, a simple conversation on Instagram would be sufficient, or if you want to have a longer conversation, I think email might be better. Okay. Awesome. And Justin, how about you? Yeah, I’m also on Instagram and Facebook. My Instagram handle is my name, Justin oversea. And you can also reach me through my private practice email,

which is [email protected] and yeah, please slide into my DMS. Awesome. Okay guys. Well, that’s all the time we have for today. I wanted to thank you guys again for joining us for taking time out a year out of your day to come and speak to me. This has been a really enlightening conversation. I’m sure there will be people out there who are going to get a lot of value from your stories and experiences.

So thank you. Okay. Listener viewers. Thank you guys for tuning for tuning in. Thank you guys for sticking with us for the full hour here, please. Don’t forget. This podcast is supported by listeners like you. So if you want us to keep creating these beautiful episodes for you, please go to our Patriot on page where you can become a patron of the show and get some great perks for as little as $2.

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If you found us on YouTube, make sure you hit that subscribe button. If you haven’t already, and I’m going to be watching the comments. So if you guys have any comments, questions, I will be reading them, fill them in there and you’ll get a look at a nice note from, from me there. And that’s it. So thank you guys for,

thank you guys for the guests, Matthew Darell, Justin, thank you for coming today and sharing your wisdom. Okay. We’ll see you guys next time. Bye. Bye.

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