The Golden Child

I was the golden child, once upon a time.

When I was young, I had curly, strawberry blonde hair, and, coupled with my blue eyes and my social personality, I was what my parents could only call perfect. Somewhere, there’s a purple trophy I won for being the cutest baby of them all. I used to fight with my brother over which of us had won it; both of us wanted to be the cutest, but I knew it was me who won that award.

As a toddler, I was the popular kid. My friends Francesca, Marie, and Kathryn would argue with me over which of them held the title of my best friend. It was always one of them, or another. I never gave it much thought because everything seemed so simple then. I loved them and they loved me. It was all a four-year-old could comprehend. I was the golden child, after all.

I was never like the other boys; I always got along so much better with girls. I never got into Spider-Man or Batman; my favorite hero was Derek, and I was Odette, his Swan Princess. Far longer than forever was everything I ever wanted. When I got my first teddy bear, I didn’t name him Rocky or Grizzly. I named her Rainbow Love Heart. I was different, but it never mattered. I was the golden child.

I was so golden that every time I went to visit my grandma, she would pick me up and sing to me. I loved every minute of it, and she did too. She would sing that I was her sunshine. She told me that I made her happy when skies were gray. She sang that I would never know how much she loved me. She begged, to whom I could only presume was God, to please, don’t take me away. I never knew what any of that meant.

Not until He took her away from me.

Nothing ever really seemed golden again after that.

I didn’t have friends anymore. Instead of the golden child, I was the fat kid who the other children made a point of walking around in the hallway, with the occasional “eww, Greg White germs” being tossed in my face. I always felt sorry for bothering them. All I wanted was a friend.

For a time, the only happiness I ever got was from the praise my parents gave me whenever I perfectly memorized a Bible verse.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – John 3:16

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind. It is abomination.” – Leviticus 18:22

I grew up thinking that anyone who never knew God the way I did would burn in hell for eternity. I grew up believing that the way I felt about boys was a test from God that I needed to pass if I wanted to be with my family forever… if I wanted to be with my grandma ever again. But, no matter how much I wanted to pass that test, I couldn’t.

Hell seemed so close.

I wished for the days when I didn’t have to think about things. I wished that I had someone to tell me that everything was going to be okay, that it didn’t matter who I loved, or who I was. I wished I had someone to tell me that I didn’t have to hate myself. I wished I had someone to tell me that I did not deserve to go to hell.

People tried.

They told me they loved me. They told me that I was a good Christian. They told me that I was still the golden child they all knew. I had memorized all those Bible verses, after all. But every time they tried to assure me that I was still the perfect boy they all wanted me to be, every time they reminded me of how proud they were of me, I was reminded that I didn’t deserve their praise. I remembered that I was dirty and decrepit. I remembered that I was never going to see any of them in heaven, because hell was the only place for someone like me.

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." - Revelation 21:8

They never considered that everything they thought they knew about me was only a lie, living for me. They never considered that every time they said faggot, or sexual deviant, or abomination; every time they talked about "gays" as if they... as if we were the most vile, disgusting form of life; as if we were just as bad as the murderers and the rapists, they were talking about me. I felt broken, because, unlike them, I knew it was me that they were talking about. I knew it was me that they hated, and I thought they were right to.

I tore myself into so many different pieces. I was afraid that God would cast out this former golden child as the tainted failure I really was. I was afraid that if I allowed myself to love who I was; If I allowed myself to be okay with not being the “man” they thought I had to be, I would never again be the golden child my family remembered. I was afraid that no one would ever love me again if they knew.

Sometimes, I’m still afraid. Sometimes, I still wonder who I can trust, because I know that so many would hate me if they truly knew me. Sometimes, I forget that I really was the golden child, once upon a time.