They say prayer changes things, but my attraction to men would beg to differ. If I could speak to my younger self, the one who thought he could ask God to deliever him from homosexuality, I would tell him to pray for the winning lottery numbers because the odds of winning and deliverance were about the same.
Growing up in a strict religious household I've prayed for plenty of things. Scratch that, we prayed for everything. My mother is what the elders would call a prayer warrior. She prays and mountains seem to move. She always tells me "I've been praying for you since before you were born." So naturally when I came out to her, she immediately went into Super Saiyan prayer mode. Up until about 5 years ago, even after having met my boyfriend at the time, visited our home and met his parents she was still saying "I'm still praying you'll change" and I was rolling my eyes and praying for her to stop. See what my mother didn't know is years before I came out to her, I had already tried to pray out the gay myself. I failed.
I had started during highschool. My mother already had her suspicions about my sexuality and was literally trying to beat it out of me. When she wasn't beating me, I was praying.
I prayed in the morning, I prayed while I was at school, I prayed at night before I would go to bed. I would pray when I was in the bathroom, and I prayed while I slept. (No lie, I had a dream where I was praying to be straight) I lit candles, I sang hymns, read the bible, fasted, and annointed my head with oil. I tried everything short of barbecuing the bible to get right. Looking back it was probably less like praying and more like begging, I was so desperate to be anything other than what I was feeling and I wanted to change.
When I wasn't praying I was doing my own form of conversion therapy. I did what I thought were "straight" activites. I watched every sport, played sports, drank a lot of alcohol, ate more pussy than food, and had enough sex to make a porn star retire. However, instead of curing my homosexuality, I ended up becoming a depressed, suicidal, borderline alcoholic, who somehow managed to avoid catching an STD or getting a girl pregnant but was still gayer than Lennox Mall.
I didn't understand what was going wrong. I drifted deeper into depression. I didn't want to date girls anymore because I didn't want that to led to me getting married knowing I was always going to have a desire for men that I seemed not to be able to defeat and I didn't want to date guys because I didn't want to be gay. I had so many questions. Was I not worthy enough to be cured? Was I not praying long enough or hard enough or with enough conviction? Was my faith being tested? If God loved me why would he make me this way and then not change me? I had prayed for other things and seen those prayers had been answered so why was this one being denied?
The answer came from the last place I expected. My father. My parents divorced when I still a toddler but my father was always a constant presence in my life. He too was very religious but not as fanatical as my mother. While I had managed to hide my mother's abuse from him, I could not hide the fact that I was increasingly unhappy and displeased with life.
Before I officially came out to him, he and I seemed to have this unspoken acknowledgement that I was not straight. He was not fooled at all by my straight crusade. He asked what was going on with me and I confided in him that I was trying to rid myself of the gay coodies. His exact response:
"You need to find something else to pray about" and then compared my prayer to asking for my favorite team to win.
He then proceeded to tell me his best friend, whom he had known since childhood was gay. He had watched him go through the same struggle and assured me there was nothing wrong with me and he would didn't love me any less and neither would God. He discerned that most of my issues with my sexuality were probably coming from my mother and told me that I couldn't pray my eyes blue and I wasn't going to pray myself straight.
Though I later moved away from religious practices (these days my "prayers" are a little less self centered) the conversation with my father was the catalyst to me beginning to come to terms with my sexuality and reconciling it with my spirituality. Hopefully by sharing, I'll help someone begin their own journey towards self love and acceptance.