Hi, I’m Cameron Reck. I’m from Sebring, Florida.
One time, when I was about 12, 13 years old, I ran out to go check the mail and in the mailbox was a random men’s health magazine. When I took the mail into the house, I threw the mail on the counter and I quickly ran with that magazine back to my bedroom. I started looking through it and was just immediately captivated by these gorgeous men in the magazine. It felt so natural to be that attracted to them, and it was exciting.
And then, all of a sudden, just this wave of fear and terror slammed into me. I was raised in a very Christian, conservative household. I was homeschooled pretty much my entire education, all the way up through high school. I knew that what I was feeling while I was looking at these photos, my parents would never be okay with, and certainly the church would never be okay with. And that just started 15, 16 years of just fear and anxiety and depression.
And then when it was time to go to college, I still hadn’t come out. I wasn’t really out to myself. I still believed that I could fix it, and so I picked a private Christian college to go to, because I thought that might be able to help me. My only interaction with the queer community was those… what I felt were moments of weakness, where I would download Grindr and I would talk with guys, and I would be too terrified to ever meet up with them. Lie about my name, everything. Then I’d feel really guilty and delete it all, and it was just this vicious cycle.
The one really great thing that came out of that school, though, was I met my best friend, Lizzy. So while I was in college, I studied film, and one of the reasons that I actually chose that particular school is because they required you to move out to LA your final semester. So when it finally came time for that, Lizzy and I packed our bags, we jumped in the car and we drove out to LA together.
I didn’t really get the opportunity to actually start exploring my sexuality again until after my first year in LA. I met a guy through an app and we agreed to go on a date, and I was very excited. So the night finally came for my first date, my first gay date. Really, my first date ever. And I had to hide it from everyone. I couldn’t tell anyone about it, including my best friend. I couldn’t tell Lizzy. And I actually lied to her, told her I wasn’t feeling well, and that I was just staying in for the night.
And he showed up and picked me up from my place and I didn’t even know how to carry a conversation, I was so freaked out. We got to the Hollywood Bowl for the concert and probably 20 minutes into the concert, I get a text from Lizzy and she says that she’s downstairs and needs to come up and grab her guitar that she left in my apartment. I knew immediately that I was caught.
I excuse myself to the bathroom. In the bathroom, the sweat started. I began to panic, I felt nauseous, I started to cry. I was trying to find some way out of this lie. After a good 10 minutes of crying and dry-heaving and just losing my mind, I finally text her and said, “I lied. I’m not home.” I text the guy and told him I wasn’t feeling well, and I immediately called an Uber and just went straight home and shut the door and just broke down and lost it.
About a week had passed. Lizzy and I didn’t talk much during that week. She was mad that I had lied to her. I knew I needed to rip the bandaid off. And so, I asked if we could have dinner one night. And I get there, I’m shaking. I feel nauseous. I was crying the whole way there. And we sit down and I go into the whole story. I tell her that I was actually on a date and I was on a date with a guy, and that this is something I’ve been trying to work through, essentially, my entire life.
I just was sobbing. I was just… couldn’t catch my breath, certainly didn’t eat a thing at the dinner. And Lizzy completely understood. She held me, she told me how much she loved me, and then she started talking about her own upbringing. And she brought up that her dad is gay as well and came out to her when she was younger.
A few days later, we were hanging out again and she brought this book for me to read, called Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gay-vs.-Christian Debate. And she explained to me that this was a book that her dad gave her when he came out to her, and then she’s now giving me that copy. It’s written by this guy who grew up in the same conservative, Christian household, knew he was gay, tried to fix himself the same ways that I had tried to fix myself. It all just, it lined up and I saw myself in that book for the first time ever. And the book really laid out how being queer and being Christian can actually go together.
I suddenly had respect for my life and understanding that God made me the way that I am and I'm not a mistake.
I suddenly had respect for my life and understanding that God made me the way that I am and I’m not a mistake. I still very much identify as a Christian. I never tell anyone that I’m religious, because I don’t really like a lot of what religion has brought along, but I am very much still a person of faith, And I truly don’t know if I would still be alive right now had I not been given that book.
If you want to continue to pursue your faith, God loves you. There is absolutely space for you in the church and in the Christian community. There’s no reason why you need to choose between being who you are and believing what you believe. They can absolutely coincide.