Growing up, I never really understood the concept of God. In my head, there was this big old white guy in the sky, who lived with his son. I had no idea why I was praying or talking to this guy with my eyes closed and on my knees. I just knew that I had to do it because I wanted to be a good boy and go to this place called heaven. I didn’t know if heaven actually existed. I was just told that it was somewhere far beyond the clouds and that my grandmother was there living with God. The thought that my grandmother knew “God” was weird. How does my grandmother know someone who created the world? It was so fucking confusing and became even more confusing as I got older.
I hated Sunday mornings. I hated getting up early in the morning; I am not a morning person. As a kid we attended a church that rented out the Freemasons Lodge in Jersey City called the Friendship Lodge. I enjoyed going to service at the Lodge, it was there that I became a part of a choir for the first time ever. The only thing I hated about going to church was dressing up in a suit. I hate wearing suits, always have. I don’t find them comfortable. The church was pure Pentecostal and the boys had to wear suits and girls had to wear dresses. This still remains the dumbest Pentecostal rule I had ever heard. I don’t believe what I wore to church had anything to do with my relationship with God. At a young age, I became allergic to religious bullshit. There were plenty more bullshit to go around as far as the Pentecostal goes.
I thought it was stupid when I saw other people jumping up and down “catching the holy ghost.” I will explain that term to those who do not know what it means. When you catch the Holy Ghost, supposedly the spirit of God inhabits your body and you start to jump, hoot and holler in a weird language. You also foam at the mouth while you’re praying. Bullshit!
According to the Pentecostal, if you do not speak in tongues or jump around like an idiot in service, you haven’t experience a deep relationship with God. Bullshit! Also, not all people are given the gift of tongues. Only a select few of “gifted” individuals are given the gift by God, to speak to God. I’m not saying this is bullshit… Well, I am… However, I don’t believe in any of it. So I did what any other good little boy would do in church… I faked it. I faked the Holy Ghost. I danced, I jumped, and I ran. I would spit on newspaper when it was time to pray. I would fake passing out as if the spirit was too overwhelming for me. I wanted people to talk about how God was moving in my life. When adults were passing out and acting crazy, they seemed to be rewarded as a puppet… Sorry, I meant prophet. I didn’t know what being a prophet meant at the time, but it sounded important and I wanted to be important. So, I faked it!
Needless to say, I wasn’t sad when we stopped attending church at the Friendship Lodge. Church became a job and it took too much energy to fake the Holy Ghost any longer, it was exhausting.
In 1999, I joined Ocean Avenue Baptist Church on Ocean Avenue and Virginia. My family was attending services at the church way before I decided to join. It wasn’t my idea to join the church, I was forced to join. At the end of every service, the pastor would ask everyone to say and pray. The prayer includes an invitation to accept Jesus Christ into your heart and be saved by his grace. The pastor then asks that the ones wishing to be saved walked down the aisle and they become new members of the church.
My mom, sister and I were standing together in the same row, when my mother started making her way out of the church pew; I had to move out of her way. My mother pushed me down the aisle with her. Her decision to join the church and accept Jesus as her Savior somehow became my choice. Our choice for salvation was met with a lot of cheers and “Amens.” That day, I wasn’t ready to accept Christ as my Savior. I wasn’t ready to be a part of that church. Everyone seemed happy about us joining the church. My family was happy that I had “found the Lord.” I was to be baptized and take covenant courses as a born-again Christian. Everyone was expecting me to be happy about the decision, but I wasn’t… So I faked it. I pretended to be happy. I pretended to care. Inside, I didn’t care.
The more that I got involved with the church, the more I wanted to please God, it wasn’t until a few days before my baptism that I actually prayed for Christ to come into my life. It was a decision I made on my own and in my own time. I wanted to make sure that I was asking for Salvation for all of the right reasons. I didn’t want to be saved because someone had scared me by telling me that I was going to hell, even though a lot of people did tell me that I was. Scare tactics usually doesn’t work with me. I made the decision to accept Christ because I wanted peace. Mainly, because everyone expected me to be a Christian. I wanted to know what it felt like to have peace. I was a teenager who had a lot going on at home and at school. There was a crazy inner battle going on inside of me. I hadn’t really dealt with the realization that I was gay. I didn’t know how to tell anyone that I was gay and wasn’t sure if I should tell anyone.
The church and their hate of homosexuality has always been a mystery to me. I never fully understood how God could make people in his image and then hate them. My Pastor and his associate Reverends taught us that God hated homosexuals and that they were going to hell. There was no other way around it. I was gay and God hated me and all gays. So I never said a word about my sexuality, even though I’m sure everyone knew anyway.The only person I had ever told that I was gay was Christina. My school outed me to my mother one day. That was funny and traumatic. My church put me in counseling. Counseling didn’t work. It had gotten to the point where every reverend would pass me down to someone else because they couldn’t handle me. I still don’t know How I started getting counseling from a guy named Kileeo, but he passed me up because he started having sexual feelings for me. I mean, Look at me!! Can you blame him?
One year, we had a revival and a guest minister came to give us the good word of God. At one point in his sermon he had everyone walk around and pray for each other and to mend broken relationships with each other. Everyone scattered to pray for one another and it became an emotional mess. People were praying and crying. My sister had broken down into tears so I hugged her while she was sobbing. The minister came over to my sister and I and he whispered to Denisha.
He went on to tell my sister that she struggles with self-acceptance and knowing that she is beautiful. The minister than came to me and said.
“You’re different and you don’t know why. You wonder why you’re going through the things you’ve gone through in your life. God wants you to know that your heart is big and he made you that way. Stop worrying about if he loves you, you are more than enough.”
I started crying. The minister continued to tell me that God made me this way for a reason and to stop questioning him because he didn’t make mistakes. I wanted to badly to tell the minister that I was gay and that I wanted to know if God still loved me. But I didn’t have to ask that that question. I had already gotten the answer. The minister told Denisha and I to stay together and to take care of each other, because no one else in the world have gone through the things we have been through. After that experience, I stopped questioning whether or not God loved me. But I don’t ever think that I fully accepted the religion. It never felt right.
Christians seemed to treat Jesus like a genie in a bottle. If you want a new job, or more money, call Jesus. I started to become bothered with certain pastors and witnesses of the good works of Jesus. None of it seemed legit. Let’s say, I pray and ask God for a new job, and it doesn’t happen. The excuse becomes. “You probably aren’t praying hard enough.” Or “You’re probably being punished for your sins.”
There is always an excuse when God doesn’t come through. “Maybe you didn’t confess all of your sins and your prayers never passed the roof.”
Okay, I will go pray on the fucking roof. There is an old saying, that “Prayer without work is dead.” That’s because, you’re doing the work. Prayer without work is dead, because you have to do all of the work…
I remember having an argument with Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child and one of her friends on Instagram about the Illuminati. Michelle’s friend tried to convince me and everyone who would listen that there were 13 bloodlines that controlled the world and government. She then tried to convince everyone that secular music was controlled by the Illuminati and that they were worshiping Satan. She also said that Michelle and Beyoncé were puppets. It was after I told her that she needed to educate herself with real knowledge and stop reading bullshit on the internet that an argument started.
The only proof these tired souls had were bible scriptures. They had no historical or scientific fact to proof that the Illuminati ever existed to bring harm or danger to anyone. They also had no proof that Jesus ever walked on water. They only had faith that it happened. I ended the argument by saying that faith based books aren’t logical or scientific proof. It’s pretty much as good as hearsay. After that, Michelle Williams blocked me on Instagram, but I still support her music.