I was only a little bit concerned that he had listed The Bible as his favorite book. Maybe he was just a fan of allegory.
I met him the usual way modern sinners match up. He was a friend, Facebook informed me, of a guy I had gone to school with. I assumed he was gay due to the high homosexual ratio of our other mutual connections—after all, he didn’t have that many friends on there. But I never inquired. I was just browsing.
Before long, he had scrolled past me, too. He requested to be my "friend," then sent me a message telling me he liked reading my work and looking at me. At the time, I could use a friend. I was new to Los Angeles, and I was getting tired of all of my hetero friends phoning in from New York to remind me that L.A. was a gay man’s paradise and that I should be extending my conquests beyond the virtual. When I unlocked his profile, I was only a little bit concerned that he had listed The Bible as his favorite book. Maybe he was just a fan of allegory.
We messaged back and forth, and as it turned out, he was boastfully literate. He was also not especially effeminate and showed no immediate signs of narcissism, all rarities for guys in his area code. We exchanged numbers and began making plans to meet up. Several months passed without those plans coming to fruition. Like eight of them.
Then, by chance, I ran into that friend from school in West Hollywood—that other place modern sinners match up—with the new guy in tow. He apologized for losing touch and wrapped me in a hug that lingered long enough to convince me to write off the slight as bad cell reception.
Then, reality swooped in to cock block. After a quickie date at a yogurt shop, he called me out of the blue and asked, “Do you believe in God?”
“Sure,” I said, “but I’m not so sure about the rest of y’all.” When he asked me to elaborate on my smart-ass response, I explained that my regular church-going days came to an end in college, around the time I started dating men. I told him that I still believed in God, but a lot of the related materials handed to me as a child seemed silly to cling to as an adult. “It’s not my place to tell people what to believe, but I know what no longer works for me,” I said politely.
When the conversation shifted to preferred sexual positions, I assumed my explanation had sufficed. But soon, everywhere we went, Jesus was still tagging along. “Why don’t you go to church?” he’d prod me before the movies. “How can anyone just turn their back on church after being a part of it for so long?” He was asking the kind of questions I might entertain from a serious boyfriend. But though we had hung out for a few months, we hadn't even tried out those sexual positions he had talked so much about. He was the first guy in Los Angeles that I really liked, and I still held out hope that the relationship might develop into something real. But his pestering questions were really starting to rub me the wrong way.
I was raised by a devout Catholic, but I’m gay. In time, I realized that I couldn’t reconcile my faith with my sexuality, and I embraced my inner heathen. Yes, there are a few Christian churches that accept gays, but I wasn’t interested in going to them. My upbringing had turned me off from claiming allegiance to any particular religion. Jesus and I are cool, but we’re kind of like Destiny’s Child in 2011. Beyoncé will still hang out with Kelly and Michelle from time to time, but she’s not trying to record with them anymore. We both thank them for the memories.
But despite my live-and-let-live attitude toward his existence, it soon became obvious that Jesus was never going to release his grip on this relationship’s third wheel. The more I learned about this guy, the more he reminded me of why I left Christianity in the first place. Some people take refuge in their religion, even if select Christian teachings are the very things tearing at their souls. And this guy wasn’t just a Christian—he was the God-fearing spawn of a pastor. His father didn’t approve of his gayness, a fact that inspired some of the strangest self-loathing behavior I’d ever witnessed. He had moved to Los Angeles, one half of Sodom and Gomorrah. So why bother trying to steer the men he met there back to Bethlehem?
I know God is supposed to work in mysterious ways, but this was getting ridiculous. I know from experience what it’s like to be conflicted about your faith and your sexuality. I try to let people find their own way, but he couldn't afford me that same luxury. He probably thought he was helping save me, but he couldn’t understand that I had saved myself from the guilt that was still creeping into his personal life.
I couldn’t keep carrying on a threesome with the Holy Trinity. So I gave him an ultimatum: Respect my hedonism, or find a closeted choir director to unload your issues on. He made an attempt at the former, but Jesus’ name kept popping up—the last time, in the form of yet another invitation to a Sunday service. When I figured out that I was more likely to score a date with Saint Peter than see him stop meddling with my beliefs, I had to let him go. I haven’t dated anyone in L.A. since. I tell my pestering concerned friends to just pray about it.