|My Story: A Faith Journey|
by Jacque Keith D.
For so long, I thought I didn't have a story, or if I did, it wasn't worth telling and no one would want to hear it. I do have a story, and it is a story worth telling. My story begins at birth in 1963. On the day I was born, in the small conservative town of Holbrook, Arizona, the KKK heard a white child was born to a black mother and they were furious. The Klan circled the hospital and plotted to kill my mother and I, but with my grandmother's help, we were smuggled to the Greyhound station and soon on our way to Los Angeles. Grandmother said I was so small I fit inside her purse and she used an eyedropper to feed me formula. My mother's own life of entertaining and drug addiction made her an unsuitable mother so she gave me to my grandmother because she didn't want me.
I don't know who my father is, if he exists, or what his name is since I was named after a great Black American, W. E. B. DuBois. I really wish my father could have known me. When I was three years old I contracted T. B. Meningitis which caused Cerebral Palsy. My life has been a long series of recurrent hospital visits which includes a total of seven operations. Some I remember and some I don't.
My mother died when I was about ten years old. In a strange way, even though I didn't really know her, it felt like she abandoned me twice. During those early years I remember seeing her only once when I was six years old. She gave me a dollar bill that I couldn't figure how I would get it into my piggy bank! I only remember seeing her once, but once was enough to remember that she was beautiful. But as it often is in the case of memories, they just seem to slip away like the wind. When I was fifteen I could see her face as clearly as that day, but today I can barely see or remember her at all. I was not allowed to go to her funeral and it was not until I was twenty-five that I found her grave, and said, "Good-bye." I was my mothers son, I'm still her child today. Do you think she smiles at me, When I go out to play? We never said hello, I did not say good-bye. I was barely ten when My mother left to die. I was my mother's son, I'm still her child today. I was barely ten when, My mother went away.
Living with my Grandmother and her boyfriend Eddie was not easy. Fridays were the worst. Eddie(who I had to call Grandfather) would come home after drinking and gambling, and would holler at my grandmother and me for hours. The rare times he said he loved me were always said with the aroma of alcohol. Some nights after his yelling he'd throw wads of cash in my room. Somehow money on my bedroom floor was to make up for the abuse I took from him. In 1982, the night I graduate from High School, he drove us all there drunk. God, how I hated him!
As a young boy I had no desire to play baseball, hoops or read the sports books. I preferred picking flowers, playing Barbie, and reading romance novels. The other boys didn't seem to like me but I did not have the language to name what it was I felt. In Junior High School, I was sure the word "fag" did not apply to me. I was a Christian, how could it! "Maybe this is a phase," I told myself. "Maybe this too shall pass." I lost myself in school, church or anything to keep me from facing the fact that I was gay.
After high school, I became a local preacher in my small Free Methodist Church in South Central Los Angeles. Even so, my college years brought thoughts of suicide. Mostly though, I just ran and hid from myself "Oh, my God, I am gay!" In my mid-twenties, I began to share these feelings with some of my friends. I heard a lot from these friends about "loving the sinner without loving the sin." I was told that my identity was a lie and that God wanted me to accept His heterosexual identity. I loved God. I was a Christian. I wanted to change but could not. "I am gay!" At that time I was working at a private Christian university. Within five months of getting my job, I was fired for being part of an ex-gay ministry "My God, why have you forgotten me!?!"
I was angry. Angry at my university, and so angry at God that I decided if I was fired for being a fag then I was going to be the best fag I could, and I set out to live a promiscuous life that included drugs. I closed my Bible and in my rage said: "I'll get you God!" In time I had to do what people do when the money runs out. I filed what might be called a Spiritual Chapter Eleven. I was broken, spiritually and over time I began making my peace with God. Today I belong to Evangelicals Concerned, a group of people who seek to bring together spirituality and sexuality. Today, I believe these two words are complimentary. God created me in God's own image. God cares and accepts me for who I am without question. My sexuality is a gift from God and I am proud to be one of God's gay children. A special thanks to Keith for sharing his important story with us. Keith is a member of EC Pasadena.