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    Drew Payne
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

His Story - 3. Dreaming.

“No!”

I was lying in a tight foetal position in bed, but it was still dark; night still hung all around me. I rolled onto my back, I was still in my bedroom, the clothes I wore last night were still dumped on the chair, and my laptop still sat on the table next to it. It had only been a dream, but one so real. I pulled the duvet close to me; my skin felt cold, but at least I wasn’t bathed in sweat again. I was now wide awake.

I’d had this dream so many times now it was becoming a regular night-time event, but it didn’t make it any less horrible. It was always the same. I was stood at the front of my old church. It was the Sunday-evening, youth-ministry service, and the whole youth congregation was there, everyone in the church who was under twenty. Pastor Clive, the church’s youth pastor, had stood at the front of the church and called me up. I’d been nervous, really scared, being called up like that, but I’d gone anyway, I had to. When I’d stopped in front of him, he’d told everyone, all my friends at church, that I was possessed by daemons, ones that caused homosexuality. He then called everyone to stand around me and cast out the daemons from me. Suddenly, it felt like hundreds of hands were pushing down on me. Pastor Clive then started to pray over me, loudly demanding that God cast out the daemons and save me from homosexuality, and he went on and on about how bad it was. As he prayed, I stared down at the floor under my feet. The carpet had a dark, blue-and-black diamond pattern. I kept staring at it, wanting it to do something, to save me from this. I felt a fraud. I felt a liar because I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel God moving inside of me and freeing me from my daemons, I felt nothing. I knew I was going to Hell; God had abandoned me; God didn’t care about me. I was a disgusting sinner that not even God could redeem. I wanted to die, then, and I knew how to do it.

Then I woke up. I always wake up at that point, and I always wake up feeling the same thing: that I want to die, that my life is nothing. It was always the same with this dream. Afterwards, I’d always find sleep impossible. I’d lie there feeling tired, my mind racing with that fucking dream as insomnia dragged me into the early hours of the morning.

I know where that dream came from. What I dreamed happened to me, all of it, the memory of it was so horrible.

My parents are very strict Christians. Therefore, I was brought up to be a strict Christian and to go to church and believe what the pastor said, which I did. I believed that God was always right, that family was everything and you couldn't live happily outside of one; that everything I was told at church was always right, certainly what I was told by the church’s Elders; that I had to conform and toe the line; if I didn't it was a sin; that church and God had to be everything to me, my whole life, and no other life.

That was what I grew up in and where I found out I'm gay, but I kept very quiet about that. I believed right from when I was a little kid that it was wrong to be gay. No one actually told me this, they didn't need to because all that homophobia was there in the very air at church, and I breathed it right in, and I believed it all.

When I was sixteen, I found one of The Release Trust's leaflets hidden away at the back of our church. They weren't as glossy as the ones I’d been given at Pride, but they said the same things. They said being gay wasn't wrong, just a mistake, but expressing it was the sin, certainly if you had sex with another man. The Release Trust said there were only two ways I could live and not sin. I could either be celibate or be "healed" and turn straight. I believed it all, every last thing they said, the moment I read it because I felt so relieved. I thought I was going to Hell simply for being gay, I was still a virgin at sixteen, but The Release Trust gave me an escape, my fire escape out of Hell—or so I thought.

So, I joined them. I went for counselling from one of its leaders, a very strange guy called Henry Webb. I also went once a month to a support group for gay men "wanting to change"; it was called a "Release Group". They were all older guys who had been out on the gay scene before finding Jesus. (The group fell apart when I was eighteen after it was found out that two of the guys in it were having a relationship) Everyone there, the Release Group and Henry Webb, told me that I was perfect to change, to be healed, to turn straight. I was young, a virgin and terrified of being gay. I believed it all and begged God each night to turn me straight. Nothing happened, though.

At nineteen I was still gay, still a virgin and still involved with The Release Trust. The problems were mounting up, though. Nothing had changed, except my gay feelings were even stronger. I had a crush on another guy at church, Marc, who was straight and didn't have a clue how I felt. Then one of our church's deacons was thrown out for being gay and living with another guy. It was all getting to me, all the pressure. Being in the closet and everyone everywhere telling me that being gay was the worst sin of all. Also, I was feeling such a failure because I wasn't turning straight. I felt God didn't love me because I wasn't straight. It was all my own fault, so I believed.

At the end of summer that year, I’d turned to Pastor Clive for help. I’d sat in the sitting room of his tiny flat one evening, just him and me, and I told him about my problem with homosexuality, I still couldn’t bring myself to say I was gay. I told him about joining the Release Trust, wanting God to turn me straight, and how God hadn’t answered my prayers. After I’d poured my heart out to him, I felt complete shit; he’d just leant back in his chair and slowly said:

“You’re not homosexual. You are simply listening to the devil’s lies. The devil is sitting on your shoulder and whispering all these lies about being homosexual into your ear. Now, Christian, you need to stop foolishly listening to his lies.”

He just dismissed all my fears and sent me home. I didn’t feel any better.

The next Sunday at the youth-ministry service, Pastor Clive called me to the front of church and exorcised the daemons of homosexuality out of me in front of all the friends I had on Earth. None of them knew I was gay before that. Thank God, no one else from my family went to the church’s youth-ministry services; my sister Annie was then too old to attend, being twenty-three, but that was it.

I’d turned to the Release Trust for help and support. I’d gone to see Henry Webb the following week on my way home from work. I’d poured out everything that had happened to me, all about the exorcism. I was looking to him for help and support, but I didn’t get it. When I’d finished telling him it all, he’d replied that many Christians believe that homosexuality is caused by daemons, which is a very valid belief, and that the devil often tempted us with same-sex attractions. Henry Webb then said I had brought it on myself, that I should have tested out what Pastor Clive’s beliefs were before I talked with him. Henry Webb had talked a lot at The Release Group about testing out people’s beliefs before disclosing any problems we were having with same-sex attractions. Henry Webb was telling me it was my fault what Pastor Clive and everyone had done to me. I left Henry Webb’s office feeling even more down and hopeless then when I’d arrived.

Two weeks later, I took a drug overdose. I wanted to die so much. I was so depressed about everything but mostly about being gay and unable to change and about how all my friends had stopped talking to me after Pastor Clive had outed me. I wanted to end it all and stop the pain. Instead of dying, I woke up in hospital. They treated me for the pills I'd taken, and the next day they moved me to a psychiatric ward. I was mad, mentally ill. I stayed on that ward for two-and-a-half months. I met my first openly gay man there, a gay man who was happy to be gay: Eddie, one of the nurses. He was nothing like the image I had been told gay men were like; he was actually one of the most caring nurses on that ward.

The unchangeable problem was I'd written a note when I took the overdose, all about being gay and not being able to change and everything. My parents read it after my sister Annie had found me. I'd been on the psychiatric ward four days when Mum finally visited me, the only time she did. She had all my stuff packed into three big bags, and she told me I wasn't welcome back home anymore; Dad had decided, and there was no arguing about it. It was bad enough I'd tried to kill myself, that was a sin in itself, but being gay was too great a sin for them. I wasn't wanted in the family anymore. She wouldn't listen when I cried and tried to tell her what had really happened to me.

When I left hospital, I went into a hostel, a sort of halfway house, and later a place of my own. I never went back to The Release Trust or back to church—or even back home.

I've been trying to come to terms with what happened to me ever since and failing to do so. I was twenty-four when I had my first relationship with another guy. It didn't last long, like the few that I've had since then. Kay is one of the few people I've been able to get close to, one of my few real friends, and even with her I hold back so much about myself. She knows I was involved with The Release Trust but not about the overdose or being in hospital. I haven’t told her because I can’t.

That dream brought all these memories back. I lay there and stared up at my bedroom’s ceiling. It was gone four o’clock in the morning, but there was little hope of falling back asleep again. That dream always brought with it the same worry: were those Christians right? They always said being gay made for a lonely and sad life, full of disease and unhappiness. My life was lonely, and none of my relationships had worked. Was that because I was gay? Was I damned to be this sad for the rest of my life? I couldn’t face it if I was, I couldn’t face it if those Christians were right.

When I was in The Release Trust, they always talked about how harmful and lonely the gay life was. Now I’m living the gay life, and my life isn’t great, I didn’t have a lover or a chance of finding one, I hardly have any friends and only go to gay bars to find sex; otherwise, I hate the places. God, I was such a failure as a gay man, but I couldn’t go back to The Release Trust because I’d already failed at that. God, my life was a joke.

I didn’t want to think about that, but it kept coming back to me as I tried to sleep; every time I closed my eyes, that thought kept coming back…

Copyright © 2019 Drew Payne; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

What happened to Chris was tragic and horrible and evil. But I'm wondering why he's not using LGBTQ support groups or similar organizations. Maybe they don't exist where he is ? But I would have thought he could find the info online, and offer his help in volunteering in return for getting information on how to deal with his issues. 

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23 hours ago, Timothy M. said:

What happened to Chris was tragic and horrible and evil. But I'm wondering why he's not using LGBTQ support groups or similar organizations. Maybe they don't exist where he is ? But I would have thought he could find the info online, and offer his help in volunteering in return for getting information on how to deal with his issues. 

In one word, shame.

Chris is deeply ashamed of what happened to him, he hasn't told his closest friend what has fully happened to him. How can he go to an LBGT organisation for help? Here he is stuck in a horrible circle of wanting a boyfriend to make his life better and chase away the damage done to him, yet he's so screwed up that he can't manage a relationship. The way he describes the abuse that he suffered shows how little insight he has into his situation.

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What is so scary and sad about this chapter is that it is so true. Not every gay person in a fundamentalist church is outed, but we live with some form of exile, whether it’s within ourselves or with the world we were taught to believe in, or from the idea of benevolent providence. Exile is difficult for anyone; it’s not surprising that suicide is a common path people try to alleviate the pain. This was too well done. 

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54 minutes ago, Parker Owens said:

What is so scary and sad about this chapter is that it is so true. Not every gay person in a fundamentalist church is outed, but we live with some form of exile, whether it’s within ourselves or with the world we were taught to believe in, or from the idea of benevolent providence. Exile is difficult for anyone; it’s not surprising that suicide is a common path people try to alleviate the pain. This was too well done. 

Thank you for such wonderful feedback.

I agree so much. We have achieved so many advances and yet homophobia is still alive and well.

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On 5/15/2019 at 5:32 AM, Drew Payne said:

In one word, shame.

Chris is deeply ashamed of what happened to him, he hasn't told his closest friend what has fully happened to him. How can he go to an LBGT organisation for help? Here he is stuck in a horrible circle of wanting a boyfriend to make his life better and chase away the damage done to him, yet he's so screwed up that he can't manage a relationship. The way he describes the abuse that he suffered shows how little insight he has into his situation.

Despite his dreadful treatment by the church, messed up preaching of “The Release Group”, his suicide attempt, and also his entirely understandable discontent with his gay life, Chris has to find some respite, otherwise he’s going to be caught forever in a vicious cycle of shame. Only he can break that cycle, by talking about it, because if he’s looking at a relationship to save him, then he’s simply jumping from one passive dependency to another.

I also agree with @Timothy M., that there are not only caring organisations out there, but churches that openly welcome GLBTQ members into the congregation. My partner was recently baptised in our independent Christian church here in Hong Kong, officials who know about us and fully support us. Ever single Sunday service we’ve been to has been like a sold out concert, with many people standing to listen in. Today, more and more, being gay and Christian is not a juxtaposition, not an impossible combination. But Chris needs to take the first step, and do so bravely, to begin loving and accepting himself for who he is. Nothing makes a person more attractive than when others can see their inner calm and acceptance.

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13 hours ago, lomax61 said:

 

Despite his dreadful treatment by the church, messed up preaching of “The Release Group”, his suicide attempt, and also his entirely understandable discontent with his gay life, Chris has to find some respite, otherwise he’s going to be caught forever in a vicious cycle of shame. Only he can break that cycle, by talking about it, because if he’s looking at a relationship to save him, then he’s simply jumping from one passive dependency to another.

I also agree with @Timothy M., that there are not only caring organisations out there, but churches that openly welcome GLBTQ members into the congregation. My partner was recently baptised in our independent Christian church here in Hong Kong, officials who know about us and fully support us. Ever single Sunday service we’ve been to has been like a sold out concert, with many people standing to listen in. Today, more and more, being gay and Christian is not a juxtaposition, not an impossible combination. But Chris needs to take the first step, and do so bravely, to begin loving and accepting himself for who he is. Nothing makes a person more attractive than when others can see their inner calm and acceptance.

I agree with you 100% percent but all I want to say is,

"Spoilers Sweety, spoilers."

There are two more chapters to post. Wait and see.

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13 hours ago, lomax61 said:

 

I also agree with @Timothy M., that there are not only caring organisations out there, but churches that openly welcome GLBTQ members into the congregation. My partner was recently baptised in our independent Christian church here in Hong Kong, officials who know about us and fully support us. Ever single Sunday service we’ve been to has been like a sold out concert, with many people standing to listen in. Today, more and more, being gay and Christian is not a juxtaposition, not an impossible combination. But Chris needs to take the first step, and do so bravely, to begin loving and accepting himself for who he is. Nothing makes a person more attractive than when others can see their inner calm and acceptance.

4

I love the sound of your church, that sounds like real Christianity to me. I have met some wonderful Christians, people who have dedicated their lives to caring for others and it doesn't matter who for, and then I've meant far too many people for whom their Christianity is a power trip, and "I'm better than you because I'm going to heaven!" power trip. The shameful thing is that I've met far more from the second type than the first type.

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A sad chapter, but one I can relate to in a way.

Chris is currently in a very dark place, and I'm not sure just what he can do to get out of it. I'm tempted to say that he must confide in Kay, ("A trouble shared is a trouble halved" sort of thing) but I'm not sure he currently has the strength to do so. I don't think he will ever be able to recover just by himself, though. Maybe ringing an LGBT helpline might help? But would he even have the courage to do that? Perhaps - if only because at age sixteen he had had the courage (or do I mean stupidity?) to contact The Release Trust (and later to talk to Pastor Clive). And sadly, because of the way that all turned out, he may feel a reluctance now to seek help from other organisations.

I'm just wondering whether Chris ever spoke to his older sister after his suicide attempt. And if not whether an approach to her might help. All his mum said was that dad had decided he wasn't welcome any more. There's nothing so far in the story to let us know what his sister's reaction might have been...

I see there are only another three chapters left. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Chris does find a way out of the hole that he is currently in (if only because I'm a sucker for happy endings). I suppose the only way to find out is for me to keep on reading. :) 

++++

As I have come late to this story, I am deliberately not reading any of the existing comments to any chapter before making my own, because I don't want my thoughts to be influenced by what others have already said. If that means that I am repeating things others have already written, all I can do is apologise.

++++

I turned my back on the (RC) church when I was about eleven, and by the time I was sixteen I was (and still am) a committed atheist, so I didn't go through exactly the same things that Chris did. But homosexuality was still illegal at the time (I was reared in England). You could be put in prison for engaging in same sex practices; you could even be forced into aversion therapy "treatment". I knew about electric shock treatment that was in practice at the time. I had read about the Profumo Affair, so I knew that homosexuality was definitely frowned upon. I had read newspaper reports about unfortunates who were in court for unnatural practices and, even when the reports were often vague in the extreme, I was intelligent enough to be able to read between the lines and understand what was being written about.

So I lived my younger life in denial. Nowadays it would be referred to as internalised homophobia. Even when homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967, a few months before my twentieth birthday, I still remained in denial. It would be a good few years before I would find the strength to come out to myself even; and then it still took me another few years before I was able to come out to anyone else. I was fortunate. I lost no important friends and, unlike Chris, not a single family member ever treated me any differently once I did come out.

But I really can appreciate just how difficult Chris must be finding things just at the point of his story.

 

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18 hours ago, Marty said:

A sad chapter, but one I can relate to in a way.

Chris is currently in a very dark place, and I'm not sure just what he can do to get out of it. I'm tempted to say that he must confide in Kay, ("A trouble shared is a trouble halved" sort of thing) but I'm not sure he currently has the strength to do so. I don't think he will ever be able to recover just by himself, though. Maybe ringing an LGBT helpline might help? But would he even have the courage to do that? Perhaps - if only because at age sixteen he had had the courage (or do I mean stupidity?) to contact The Release Trust (and later to talk to Pastor Clive). And sadly, because of the way that all turned out, he may feel a reluctance now to seek help from other organisations.

I'm just wondering whether Chris ever spoke to his older sister after his suicide attempt. And if not whether an approach to her might help. All his mum said was that dad had decided he wasn't welcome any more. There's nothing so far in the story to let us know what his sister's reaction might have been...

I see there are only another three chapters left. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that Chris does find a way out of the hole that he is currently in (if only because I'm a sucker for happy endings). I suppose the only way to find out is for me to keep on reading. :) 

++++

As I have come late to this story, I am deliberately not reading any of the existing comments to any chapter before making my own, because I don't want my thoughts to be influenced by what others have already said. If that means that I am repeating things others have already written, all I can do is apologise.

++++

I turned my back on the (RC) church when I was about eleven, and by the time I was sixteen I was (and still am) a committed atheist, so I didn't go through exactly the same things that Chris did. But homosexuality was still illegal at the time (I was reared in England). You could be put in prison for engaging in same sex practices; you could even be forced into aversion therapy "treatment". I knew about electric shock treatment that was in practice at the time. I had read about the Profumo Affair, so I knew that homosexuality was definitely frowned upon. I had read newspaper reports about unfortunates who were in court for unnatural practices and, even when the reports were often vague in the extreme, I was intelligent enough to be able to read between the lines and understand what was being written about.

So I lived my younger life in denial. Nowadays it would be referred to as internalised homophobia. Even when homosexuality was decriminalised in England and Wales in 1967, a few months before my twentieth birthday, I still remained in denial. It would be a good few years before I would find the strength to come out to myself even; and then it still took me another few years before I was able to come out to anyone else. I was fortunate. I lost no important friends and, unlike Chris, not a single family member ever treated me any differently once I did come out.

But I really can appreciate just how difficult Chris must be finding things just at the point of his story.

 

Marty,

I am so humbled by how much this story of mine has touched you. As a writer, I always want my writing to touch and move people but when it happens I always feel so moved and small.

I originally wrote this story to say "look at the effect that the ex-gay has on people" and as I reply to the people who said that everything was better once you'd left them behind and come out. I also wrote it to help me put my experiences in perspective. I never thought that this story would resonate with so many people.

I was two years old when homosexuality was partially decriminalised in England and Wales,  but I grow up in the seventies and eighties, with all the homophobia and open hatred of LGBT people. I still shudder when I think back to then. In the last few, I have read a lot about life pre the 1967 act, and God it was awful. The repression and homophobia was breath-taking. I admire anyone would lived through all that and came out of it half-sane.

As for what happens to Chris, Spoilers! Spoilers!

I have a policy of no spoilers in my comments, and God that is hard, it really is. But please keep reading, at the end is a brief piece about what lead me to write this story.

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I am glad  we do not have to hear the H word all the damn time anymore.  We are GAY damnit.  If someone say homosexual to me, I ask do you want to be called  a het or a heterosexual all the time, because I am happy to oblige. 

I demand my equal rights today. And we are getting them. As it should be. 

And we need stories like this to remind us how it was. And the cost to have what we do. 

And to remember to never let go of what we have. 

 

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15 minutes ago, MichaelS36 said:

I am glad  we do not have to hear the H word all the damn time anymore.  We are GAY damnit.  If someone say homosexual to me, I ask do you want to be called  a het or a heterosexual all the time, because I am happy to oblige. 

I demand my equal rights today. And we are getting them. As it should be. 

And we need stories like this to remind us how it was. And the cost to have what we do. 

And to remember to never let go of what we have. 

 

The H word was originally a medical term, and so like many medical terms it's a bloody awful word and it’s a mixture of Latin and Greek. I much prefer gay because that was chosen by gay men.

I think gay history is so important because it remains us of where we came from, and reminds us of what we need to fight for and fight against.

Over recent years, I've become more and more interested in gay history, and I've been writing stories based on events from gay history. So, watch this space and all that.

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