“When I was a teenager, in 1998, I was at the United Church in rural Alberta*. I was struggling with homosexuality. That is what we were calling it back then. We didn't have terms such as same sex attraction or anything like that. I went to my church and told them about this, and they decided to do a kind of prayer thing or exorcism on me, thinking that it was the devil or spiritual forces that had taken hold of me and was bringing on my same sex attraction.
“One day, I went to church and a group of people and I were in the hall. I sat in the middle of the group and everyone put their hands on me to pray for me. They were praying and singing, trying to draw the devil out of me. It got really intense and I started moving around trying to get up. But the people around me wouldn't let me get up. They kept pushing me down, and all the hands on me pushing their group weight on me to keep me sitting down. They wanted to hold me down so that the devil would run out of me. But I couldn't take it anymore… so I finally got up and ran away as fast as I could. They thought this was proof that the devil had taken hold of me. I ran out of the church… and I never came back to that church.
“I left there believing that I was possessed, and that I had been motivated to leave by the devil. I think I was very naive when it came to the church. Maybe it was my Catholic background, but I believed that what they said was canon. For a long time, I believed that God wasn’t in me, because God and the devil can't live in the same place.
“So a big part of me, my sexuality specifically, was demonized, and has impacted me for several years, in fact it still impacts me today. I would like to believe that God made me the way I am and that he wants me to be the way I am, but I haven't come to that conclusion for myself yet. So I feel like an imposter in church…
“I didn’t mean to come here today. I'm Catholic now and a nun I know unexpectedly had an extra ticket, and she gave it to me, so here I am. I don't know where I can be safe, I don't know where I belong. I don't know where God is in my life… or if I can take the sacraments. (I don't take the sacraments now because the Catholic church says I can't because I've been married to a woman for eight years).”
* Shared with permission of Tara. Some identifying details have been changed.