Bryan DeSilva came out to his parents as a gay 15 year old. His father, a Baptist pastor, loved him without condition, but others in the church did not feel the same. This is Bryan’s story in his own words …
Some of my earliest memories of waking up in the mornings involved my mother singing “Stand Up for Jesus” as I stood on the bed to get dressed. Although it would seem that I was being groomed to be a “Soldier of the Cross,” I would soon be more interested in designing gowns out of felt for my sisters’ Barbie dolls. Regardless, I find it funny how as children we can recite the words to a Bible verse or hymn without giving the slightest thought to its true meaning. Today, this particular hymn makes me a bit uncomfortable, but as a 4 or 5 year old, all it really meant to me was “Get up, sleepyhead!”
As the child of a Baptist pastor, the ideas of faith and Christianity always seemed more like a family vocation to me, rather than a way of life. This is by no means a reflection of my parents’ faith, which they always sought to instill in me. However, I myself just didn’t get it. Looking back, it was as if I had two selves: the ideal, preacher’s kid “me,” and the other “me,” who just wanted to be like everyone else, and who questioned the tenants of Fundamentalist Christian faith. It seems fitting that I would find a life in the performing arts, since I was such a natural actor.
Years later, I came out to my parents as a gay 15 year old. I’ll spare you all the details, but although it wasn’t easy, we grew together as a family and my father (now lightyears from many of the principles he’d held before) found a greater faith in a God who created and loved his gay son without condition. However, the church at which he was employed did not feel the same. My father suffered abuse from some who he’d thought to be close friends, while I was demonized as an abomination and a risk to the children of the church. “The Christian Son” was no longer a part I felt I was able to play, and in some ways I may never feel completely at ease with the idea of institutionalized religion again.
However, I do feel as though I’ve since “found God,” or rather, she has found me; not in the sense that I’ve had some profound mountaintop experience, but rather I’ve found God through love. I’ve found God in a family that, despite its issues loves each other fiercely and unconditionally. I’ve found God in a partner who knows me better than I care to know myself, and STILL choses to walk through life with me. And I have found God in a diverse and welcoming church family of people eager to welcome and to share their love in spiritual and tangible ways.