Like Lisa and how she was changed, when I needed to gather information, I was touched by stories that others put on blogs and websites and by personal sharing. I found out, to my shock, that there were gay Christians, and that there was no such thing as only one "gay lifestyle."
Now I believe in blogging, and in sharing our stories in person as well. It starts with telling the truth, despite what others may think or say. Lisa has granted me permission to share the way she knew and loved Jonathan, and I offer it to you here.
When I met Jonathan, we were instant friends. We connected on so many levels and our friendship lasted for many year. After I had known him about a year, he confided in me that he was gay. He was only 16 years old at the time. I was in my 20's. I was a little shocked at first, but I already loved and cared about him, and his revelation was not going to change that. It was something that I watched him struggle with for years. He was afraid his parents would find out and shun him. He played piano for several local churches and worried that he was going to be punished by God for playing for a church and being gay.
He went to college on a scholarship because he didn't want to take his parents money, for fear of their reaction if they ever found out. He ended up working 3 jobs while in college, to cover what the scholarship didn't. He was leading a double life, being himself at school and and being the dutiful son when he came home. It was tearing him apart. Finally in his senior year of college, he closed his bank accounts, maxed out all his credit cards and came home with a gun, planning to kill himself. But for some reason, at the last minute, he reached out to his mom for help. He finally told her everything that he had been hiding.
His mother loved him. I don't doubt that. But she couldn't accept that he was gay and she got him into cousleing with someone who kept telling him it was just a phase, and that he could change. That was 5 years ago, and she never stopped trying to change him. He dropped out of college and moved back home. He was just going through the motions really. Two years ago, a job came open in South Carolina, within the company he worked at, so he moved. I thought things were better, since he could be himself there. Of course he still had to pretend when he came home.
We used to joke around and say we should get married, just as a cover. He was so tired of pretending to be someone he was not. But he knew his parents would never ever accept him for who really was. And he was so worried about what God and other Christians thought. I guess I thought he was doing better, but I missed something along the way. He killed himself on May 10, 2010. He just couldn't take the pressures of life anymore.
I am feeling so guilty because I missed the signs. I am so anger that this world makes it so hard for gay people. I really just want to shout at people when they say such hurtful things, like gay people choose their lifestyles. If it were just a choice, Jonathan would not have killed himself. He would have chosen the easier path. I have to say that Jonathan is the reason that my heart was changed. He made me a better person. And now he is gone. I feel so alone, so hurt, so anger...so many emotions. I am flooded with memories and regrets.
Reading your blog has been good for me. I just needed to write to you and tell you what Ray's coming out meant to Jonathan. I think it gave him a brief bit of hope. I think the pain he was in was just too much. I read a quote on a suicide survivors forum that I joined. It said " the time came when the pain it took to stay was greater than the pain it took to go"
Please tell Ray thank you and I thank you for sharing your story and for letting me share Jonathan's. The more I can write this down and get it out of my head the better. Please keep me and his family in your prayers and I will keep you in mine.
Jonathan's story is important, and Lisa has offered to share it with us. ALL of our stories matter, and I hope I can honor others' stories as well.