I still remember the stunned silence. I had just come out as gay. It was the first time I had ever told anyone about my sexuality.

He was rather taken aback by my disclosure, and to be honest, so was I. I hadn’t planned to tell him. He hadn’t pressured me to do so, but when I saw an opportunity open up, I took it almost before realising what I was doing. It felt like a life-defining moment. For the first time, what I had been aware of inside for so many years had made its way outside, and I was no longer the only person who knew.

Coming to terms with our sexuality, understanding it and finding peace with it is a big deal for any teenager who is gay. But in my case, it felt like an even bigger deal because my sexuality wasn’t the only thing I felt pretty certain about by my mid-teens. I knew I was gay, but I also knew I was a Christian.

I had become a Christian at a young age. I had always known that Jesus loved me, and I’d come to understand that he died so I could be forgiven and have a relationship with him. That’s what I wanted, to live in relationship with Jesus and to faithfully follow him. That had seemed relatively straightforward when I was younger, but when puberty hit and I began to become aware of my sexuality, things started to feel a lot more complicated. I lived with that secret, carrying the questions and complexities with me for several years, until that day when I finally let it out.


That moment, unplanned by me as it was, proved hugely significant. The guy I had come out to was one of the leaders of my church youth group. As that initial stunned silence revealed, he didn’t really know what to say or what to do in response, but that was ok. I didn’t need answers straight away. I just needed to know that I was safe, that he wasn’t going to reject me because of what I’d revealed, and that he and others would help me as I sought to work out what it means to be a Christian and to be gay. And that’s exactly what he did.

By the next time we saw each other, he had done some research; he’d found some things we could both read, and he reiterated his commitment to helping me work out what it looks like to be a faithful follower of Jesus as someone who is attracted to people of the same sex. For the first time, I wasn’t alone in this journey.

And he wasn’t the only one. Soon after, I spoke to another youth leader, one of the church pastors, and some close Christian friends. I’m not sure any of them knew quite what to say or do at first, but they all continued to love me and in different ways helped me to find my way. Together we explored what the Bible has to say; we talked about what it had been like for me to realise that I’m gay, and how they could best support me.

The support they offered me was based on the belief that the Bible reveals God’s good plan for our sexualities. In this good plan, sex and marriage are reserved for life-long unions of one man and one woman, and both marriage and singleness are good gifts from God, contexts in which we can thrive and flourish. This is what I already believed before I came out to anyone. It’s what I continued to believe as I journeyed with their love and support alongside me, and it’s what I still believe now, more than a decade later.

Looking back now, I can’t imagine going through that time without the support youth leaders, pastors and friends offered me. Having people on the journey alongside me, encouraging me, teaching me and praying for me and with me helped me to wrestle with my faith and my sexuality. It helped me work out how I could keep hold of my Christian convictions and also acknowledge my experience of sexuality. Their support transformed what had been and could have continued to be a lonely and scary situation, into one where I knew I wasn’t alone and I didn’t need to be afraid.

But sadly, and worryingly, the sort of support I was offered and benefited from so greatly when I was a teenager could soon be unavailable to teenagers like me. If the forthcoming ban on conversion therapy takes the form that the government is currently proposing, the sort of support I received could easily be classed as illegal. This seems incredibly unfair, that young people of faith should be denied support to live out their sexualities in light of their religious convictions.

But more than unfair, it seems dangerous. If this law had been passed when I was a young teenager, I would have been faced with an impossible choice. Changing my religious convictions wasn’t an option I was open to and isn’t something that any law should require. My two options would have been to remain silent and continue to struggle with the secret of my sexuality alone, or to share about my sexuality with Christians around me, only to experience the rejection of them being unable to support me for fear of being rendered a criminal. I would have been left in an impossible and painful situation. I would have been left alone.

As a Christian, I support efforts to stop coercive and abusive practices, but we must make sure that in the process of seeking to introduce legislation to protect people, we don’t end up denying young people the chance to access vital support to help them live out their sexualities in light of their faith. I don’t want young people of faith to be stuck in the isolated and scary position I was in before I had come out to anyone. We need to make sure that the law doesn’t trap young people there.

NOW CLOSED: Have your say on the government’s consultation to ban conversion therapy

NOW CLOSED: Have your say on the government’s consultation to ban conversion therapy

It's vital the government hear from parents, youth workers and church leaders about this consultation and future legislation Find out more