Searching for Freedom From Acts of Religious Freedom

05/28/2015 03:04 pm ET | Updated May 28, 2016

It's time I made a statement that is extremely difficult for me to make: I can't care what the Bible says about homosexuality. I can't live with that fear anymore. It's debilitating. I wanted to say I don't care, but I couldn't...not yet. The truth is: I'm trying to convince myself that I don't care and saying I can't is the first step. It's taken me years to even get to a place where I can say that, let alone type it so that it appears in print. 
Religion (that most rigid set of beliefs and practices) can be enslaving. Using the words of the Bible as a guide in life can be an uplifting experience for some. But for others like me, who suffered through those burgeoning homosexual feelings in his formative and teenage years in a sterile, God-is-omnipresent sanctuary, those biblical words can leave a mark of fear on the heart and soul that remains even after years of distance. My churchgoing experience was one filled with dread as I listened to the fire and brimstone messages being preached from the pulpit while I sat there feeling my interest in the bulge in a man's pants growing stronger than my interest in the breasts hidden beneath a woman's blouse.
I was raised a Christian, but the politics of some of today's high profile Christians toward LGBTQ people makes me question their legitimacy as true Christians. I can't empathize with them because I'm part of the demographic they're trying to hold at bay with the heel of their boots, lambasting with their verbal whips, and shouting negatively about from any media outlet rooftop that will let them. Many Christians seem to be proclaiming the intolerance of LGBTQ people. They feel they're being persecuted by us. My thoughts boil with sarcasm and venom like tar beginning to bubble in a caldron the more I read these catering-to-the-lowest-common-denominator statements about persecution. I have to keep my eyes from getting stuck in the back of my head from the perpetual eye roll they induce.
Attention Christians: You are not being persecuted. Allow me to repeat this because I want it to sink in. You are not being persecuted. Please excuse me while I get a Botox injection to smooth out the crease between my eyes from the absolute confusion the thought of LGBTQ people persecuting Christians causes my brain. I don't know how you arrived at that conclusion, but I'm reminded of the fabulous yet eccentric Little Edie Beale of Grey Gardens fame, speaking of her creative outfits saying, "I have to think these things up." I think you're doing just that: thinking things up. You're not being persecuted. What you are being is challenged. We LGBTQ people have to raise our voices so we can be heard over the Bible thumping and scripture spouting. Not every person in this free country of America believes in God or believes in God the same way as the next person. Get off your superior high horse.

Defending oneself is not persecution. Challenging another's beliefs is not persecution. Fighting for the rights one believes he deserves is not persecution. It's one thing to believe the words of the Bible and to live your life by those archaic laws, but to decide that those words should be the law of the land is ridiculous. A Christian's personal beliefs and practices are just that: personal. They should not be thrust upon our country as a whole, especially when one uses those beliefs to discriminate against an entire segment of the population. To me, the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts are nothing more than a disguise for discrimination against LGBTQ people. Our ability as human beings to diminish the worth, feelings, thoughts, and experiences of others lives astounds me.
For many of us, our religion -- and the beliefs and practices associated with it -- is imposed on us by our families. Once I became an adult I made the choice to leave those practices behind even as the beliefs remained, a scar on my psyche. Oh yes, I'm scarred. My life is constantly thwarted by fears of burning in hell for eternity just for being born. And now with political platforms using religious beliefs as a focal point, my waking hours are marred by nightmarish themes.

Here's a question: If the religion a man chooses to practice has no bearing on my life why should who I sleep with have any bearing on his? I wash my hands, brush my teeth, and take a shit just like everybody else -- gay or straight. I'm alive, a man who is gay. I am one person but I'm not alone in my feelings or views on this subject. I may take it more personally than others, but the oppression I feel is also within reach for many others, and the brazenness of Christians to cry persecution is laughable. I get angry at myself for allowing their words to affect me so negatively. You'd think I hadn't grown at all. I have. But the constant barrage of new bills being drawn up in an attempt to pass discrimination into law because of the words of the Bible continues to open a wound that I'm learning was merely scabbed over, never fully healed.
Stop with this bullshit already. Practice your religion however you see fit. I don't care. I'm going to live my life however I see fit. Thankfully, LGBTQ people have gotten tired of being kicked around and because of it our voices have gotten louder. You have the freedom to keep trying to stop progress and I have the freedom to keep trying to be the change I want to see in the world.