Identifying as GAY and CHRISTIAN… Perfectly and Wonderfully Made
This is the story of Steven Herevia. But it’s also the story of so many others. Growing up in the Christian church and also being a pastor’s kid, Steven heard the message loud & clear: “It is not okay to be gay!” Although he knew where his parents stood on the topic of homosexuality, he was struggling to reconcile the truth in himself. He desperately wanted someone to tell him: “It’s okay. We love you just the way you are.” When he finally decided to come out to his parents at age 15, his dad beat him and his parents cut off communication with him. He moved in with an aunt and uncle, the message in his head now louder than ever before: “You have to change. You cannot be this. You are not worthy of love unless you change this.” Steven took that message and turned to God, begging & believing he could be cured. He remembers going through his Bible and turning to the study portion on reversing homosexuality… and doing the study multiple times over. Steven also poured himself into his church community, sharing his love for music and singing by accepting a position as the worship pastor. He decided to bring his struggle into the light, openly sharing with church leaders & even the head pastor to ask for prayer & advice. His pastor at the time suggested he attend “healing room” prayer sessions. Healing rooms were intentional spaces where people would pray with him. The prayers were intended to turn him straight. Refusing to act on his true feelings, Steven even got into a serious relationship with a woman in college. She was also a part of the worship team at the mega church they served in and they sang together. After three years of dating & even planning to get married, pretending to be something he wasn’t was finally taking an unbearable toll on Steven. Inside he was screaming to be known and loved for the truth in himself. Steven and his girlfriend broke up & that led to another huge betrayal in his life. He was let go from his position at the church. The reason for his dismissal was that his ex-girlfriend no longer felt comfortable serving with him. Later he was told though that he was let go because he was gay. Steven is so grateful for friends during that time who in his darkest moment were there saying, “It’s okay. We see you. We know you’re gay. Let us walk through with you what it looks like for you to become your fullest self.” Steven knows there were many times he easily could have succeeded at committing suicide. “That was a thought regularly.” Somehow he was always able to cling to an inner belief that he had worth from something. That’s what kept him alive. He is now going on 5-years of being out and sharing his truth. “The death wish I thought was on this side has actually been the greatest gift of life.” LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are more than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide as their LGB peers who report no or low levels of family rejection. It’s this devastating fact that’s put Steven on a path to to spread a message of love and worthiness for the LGBTQ+ community. In coming out Steven was also able to rediscover the TRUTH of Jesus and the Bible and he wants to challenge Christians who have no tolerance. “If you do not agree at all. If you say that this cannot exist. I would encourage you to re-read your Bible. And then I would encourage you to sit down and listen to some stories of some gay people. And then ask yourself, ‘Does your Jesus love these people still?’ because I would imagine the answer is yes. Jesus was all about bringing the outsiders together with those think that they’re in on the inside. And that’s what’s powerful, that’s what’s life changing.” “He tells this pretty blatantly that the greatest commandment is to LOVE your neighbor as yourself. That’s pretty straight forward.” “I also think Christians have missed the message of salvation. I think we’ve turned salvation into this set of rules that you must complete to gain salvation. That’s not what it’s about. Salvation is truly, humanity being humanity. It’s you being you and letting others also be themselves too. I’ve always thought that a perfect you or an abundant you was something to strive for, but it’s actually who I already am. And that’s crazy! It’s crazy! And then to think that real change or real impact happens when you’re able to recognize that in other people. And I think Jesus was trying to get us to notice that… but we missed it.” Steven is now involved in Spokane Pride and also a non-profit called Wonderfully Made Spokane.