If someone had come to me when I was a young boy and described the man I would grow to be, I never would have believed them. Even as I sit here thinking about my journey through this life, I find myself amazed at the twists and turns it has taken, and the milestones I have observed along the way. The fact that I've made the journey and transformed into the person writing this autobiography can only be attributed to my determination, an immense supply of inner strength I never realized I had, and countless blessings that friends, family, an my gods have chosen to pour upon me.
I was born in June of 1974 in a small hospital in northeastern Pennsylvania. I was raised in a small rural area just outside of a small town in the same area. My parents, while not perfect, were a loving woman and man who took great pains to care for all of their children. Being devout Christians, they took me to weekly services at the small Baptist church they attended. It was a life of faith that I was quite familiar with and only left two decades later after great deliberation.
I grew up as a strongly introverted boy, clinging to schoolwork and eventually the world of computers (particularly computer programming) as a way to make it through an awkward time of my life. As someone with a lot of "book smarts" and absolutely no athletic ability (my lazy eye severely impaired my hand-eye coordination), I wasn't exactly a popular boy (though I was liked well enough), and my pursuits in the world of computers helped make my resulting solitude more pleasant.
I went away to college at Susquehanna University, a small Lutheran affiliated school about an hour north of Harrisburg. There, I made friends with a small group of like-minded people, friendships which I still cherish to this day. All of these friends were likewise evangelical Christians, and much of our friendship centered on our involvement in our school's chapter of InterVarsity as well as Acts 29, an "alternative ministry" group.
My life took a sharp turn during my senior year at Susquehanna. During the Spring semester, I realized that I could no longer deny the secret that I had been denying for the previous eight years of my life. So in April of 1996, I finally accepted that I was gay, coming out to a small group of close friends. The next few years were difficult times that tested both friendships and my own resolve.
After graduation, I returned to the county I had grown up in. Again, computers served an important part of my life. I had brought a new ally back home from college with me, the Internet. Getting Internet access at home allowed me to meet new friends and keep in touch with those people who supported me in the early stages in my coming out process.
This time of my life was marked with a horribly failed relationship, resurfacing emotions that I had managed to stave off for years, and my frantic efforts to learn to cope with these things while still living in an adult world I felt unprepared to face. And yet somehow, I managed to sort through my feelings, heal my past hurts, and learn how to live in a world I initially found hostile.
In the midst of all of this (November of 1998), the time came for another drastic change in my life. I came to understand that in order to heal and grow as a person, I would need to make some drastic changes in my spiritual life. As a result, I stepped out of the world of Christianity (and a particularly dogmatic form at that) and into the realm of Paganism. This change enabled me to work towards becoming the person I always thought I should be. That is a journey I am still undertaking, and my faith has not only shown me how to travel it, but how to truly enjoy it.
In the years since my conversion, life has taken me through a couple more failed attempts at romance, a couple of job changes, and even a move. Two years ago, I moved to Rochester New York, where I've made many new friends and have started creating a home for myself. And I've started looking outside of myself, seeking ways to help people in my local community, particularly those who share my faith or sexual identity.
Some days, I think of that awkward boy I was back in the 1980's and early 1990's. I think of what it would be like for him to look at the strong, sociable man who is so comfortable with himself, and I can feel the awe I know that would befall him. And I can only smile and whisper to him that we've come a long way.