STEVEN SPILLS © 100
COMING OUT IN CHURCH
And the Lord said, “Girl, you’re gay!” And it was done.
My bi-monthly therapy sessions here at “Steven Spills” turns 100 this issue. As a proud milestone must be celebrated, I’ve decided to cross lines that I‘ve rarely treaded before. I’ve always tried to keep my columns light but personal, entertaining and opinionated. I rarely mix with politics and almost never open the book of religion. It’s time, dear.
When deciding what I should do for this big installment I first thought of composing a love-letter to my readers for always picking up PULP and supporting me by reading my words. Or maybe even a self-adulation story of how wonderful I see myself for what I’ve done. I’ve always prided myself on being a storyteller and the following is true, barrier-breaking and the tale of another milestone in my life. This is the story of the day I sat in church and realized that I was what everyone had been calling me my entire life. I was gay.
I was born into a family of Church of Christ believers and until I was seven-years-old, I spent Sunday mornings hating my life while sitting on a horribly uncomfortable wooden pew listening to a man basically yelling scripture at us, his congregation. When I wasn’t enjoying the only thing about church I actually liked, Vacation Bible School, I was being spanked by my father on the front steps of the church in broad daylight for being a child fidgeting in his seat until I stopped crying. Ah, the memories that burn deep. Ouch.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I stepped foot back into church attending a few Baptist services with a girlfriend from dance class. About this same time I had also met another male dancer at the studio and we became friends fast. Scott assumed I was gay. I had no idea that he was. Looking back Scott Vernon was a big ‘ole sis. Mustache, bandana around the neck and a bright-ass shirt tucked to perfection in his tight 501s. Queen! I was obviously queer from birth but after learning the meaning of “repression” in Health Class I began pushing those feelings down and away. I wasn’t sure what I was but I knew I was different.
One day Scott was telling me a story about tricking with someone during his lunch break and when I honestly asked him, “Who Trix was?” like it was someone’s name, he looked at me like I was crazy. I quickly became very curious about this gay lifestyle. The only exposure I had was seeing two men come out of a bar on Christmas Eve when I was twelve kissing before getting in the car together. Knowing Scott showed me that there were others that seemed like me and it was OK.
The date was May 11, 1986 and it was the day that changed everything for me. I attended church alone that evening and am not sure what the precursor was but about 6 p.m. everyone sat down quietly in their seats, the sermon began and a voice immediately said to me, “Steven, you’re gay.” Was it out loud? It was loud enough for me to hear it and to listen. I have no idea what the sermon was about because after I heard those words everything else cleared in my mind and I was different forever.
Afterwards I drove to Scott’s apartment and exclaimed, “I’m gay!” Friends were there and they all joyously replied, “We know! Welcome out. Get in here!” They threw me a surprise “Coming Out” party and we watched William Higgins’ fantastic adult classic The Young and The Hung. Not to get too personal but I was so hard it was ridiculous. And so embarrassed. I was eighteen and this scene was very new and extremely inviting to me, a quiet southern boy living in Nashville.
I’ve never claimed to be religious. Even though Christian brainwashing I endured living in the Bible Belt gives me cause for prayer of forgiveness thinking anything other than what I’ve been taught. When the subject of man-made religion is even on the table I usually take a pass. But loving a Jewish man and knowing alternatives of religious beliefs and human spirituality gives me a reason of honesty in saying my God, my Higher Power, is the one that put me here on earth, gave me life and the love in my heart. That’s what I know. The rest is available for those who want and need to believe. And by all means, do find that something to believe in! It feeds your soul and gives life to you. Thanks for reading.
2011 © PULP