I arrived at the conference not knowing a single person apart from seeing photos from previous conferences and emails from Randall Thacker.
I was warmly welcomed and felt very safe to just “be myself”.
Upon the opening hymn I felt a powerful spirit of “home”. I have sung the hymn ”Come Come ye saints” so many times, yet it had a very different meaning to me. After all the long years of struggle and pain as a gay man I had finally arrived “Home”. A feeling I will always remember and treasure deep in my heart. I was unable to continue singing as the emotions ran deep and my heart was overflowing with a deep love.
This followed by a very moving prayer.
I feel now that I have been languishing for this experience for a long time and to finally find it was a deep and moving blessing.
Randall’s opening speech of honest sharing of his journey through such deep despair touched my heart.
Many honest and open personal stories of how the struggle of life being gay and having a deeply engrained faith was so healing for me. I felt a reawakening of my spiritual being.
It has been an often lonely journey, when so many have discarded the spiritual when coming out as a gay.
I was born into a faith known as the Exclusive Brethren is Brisbane Australia.
At an early age I felt the attractions to admire other boys which grew stronger around 14. I felt so ashamed. This certainly was not an option in the 70’s. I felt the need to conform when all my friends were getting married at 24. I married and then had 6 children. (My 2nd boy came out after he returned from his mission)
We all left the Excusive Brethren as a complete family and found the LDS church to be somewhat close to our values and way of life. After 2 years the SSA loomed again with the pressure of my sick daughter who has had serious health problems since birth. I has to confront my struggles and sought help through my bishop, who referred me onto Evergreen.
This was the first time my wife knew of my struggles. It was liberating to be honest and yet painful to see how she was hurt. She supported me with 3.5 years of therapy which included a SLC conference which was wonderful to find I was not alone. I felt the struggle was over and I returned home “cured”. 4 nights after I told her I was still the same. We stayed together for 9 long months and I left on my 48th birthday which was the hardest thing I have ever done.
The family struggled in many different ways including a no contact period of 9 months. During this time I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery without 4 of them.
My eldest 2 always stood by me for which I am very grateful for.
I have learnt from my journey, the true power of love. No conditions, just pure love. The most precious treasure I have now and wish for all to have.
I do not belong or associate, with any denomination now and yet can go into any place of worship and enjoy the good of any place. My temple is the mountains and the sea where I can be at peace.
Thank you Affirmation and the wonderful leaders who devote so much to the cause of those souls who struggle with the burden and shame of being “who they are”.
I was deeply moved also by the many parents and supporting families who are there to love and strengthen youth. This is truly an honourable thing. I paused to reflect many times of the beautiful souls who we lost because this love was not there or feeling rejected.
I also felt healing take the place of guilt and shame. A real sense of self-acceptance and loving who I am.
It was a beautiful feeling of being lavished in heavenly love.
A very big thank you for Affirmation and the leaders who are doing such a great purpose.