Kevin Nicholls – Before & After
Short Stories By Jesus Series
Our fall worship series was entitled Short Stories By Jesus, in which we were looking at Jesus’ parables, especially some of the most problematic ones. We enlisted the congregation to write Before & After stories. Each Sunday one member shared a story in which there was a before and an after, and after which, many things in his or her life changed dramatically. Here is one of those stories.
Kevin Nicholls – Before & After
Growing up, I always knew I was a little different than the other kids. At around the age of 10 I finally realized what that difference was. I knew that I was gay. Well growing up in the South, I also knew that I must keep this secret to myself and figure a way on my own to deal with this. I dove, head first into every sport that I could. I played baseball, basketball, football and tennis, excelling in each and every one of them. Feeling confident that no one would suspect a thing because I was a pretty good athlete.
Getting to college, I realized that I survived high school with my secret and now must tackle the next chapter in life. My approach however was much different. I thought, I would try dating women and make myself sexually attracted to them. (No one ever said, I was smart college kid) I began dating and fell hard for a girl named Jennifer. She was amazing and I loved everything about her. Everything that was, except for one important factor that a relationship needs. “It” simply wouldn’t work if you know what I mean? I had to end things with her in order for her to find happiness.
I continued to convince myself even after that, that I could beat this. I continued to date and finally met a girl by the name of Rachael my senior year. We had great times and became best friends, and “it” was working. I was physically attracted to her. This was the answer to my prayers. I would never have to deal with my issues and I could have a family and a normal life. I was beyond relieved and thanked God for answering my prayers. The first 4 years of marriage were magical. I couldn’t believe that I had beaten this and would not be a disappointment to anyone. Entering year 5 of marriage, the magic began to fade and she was having an affair on me. We began marriage counseling and after trying a little bit of everything for the next 3 years, I realized that this marriage was over and could not be saved. I knew that this was not God’s plan for me and that I must face my biggest fears and begin living as God intended me to.
It was now time for “THAT MOMENT”, the life changing moment where you put it all on the line. I had to tell my mother that I am gay. See you must understand my mom, a single mother who worked 7 days a week to support my sister and I. She worked a 9-5 job on Monday through Friday, worked for a local Auctioneer on Saturdays and was the choir director and organist at church on Sunday’s. In addition to that she would type papers for UV a students after we went to bed on weeknights in order to pay the bills. I had and have more respect for her than I do anyone else on earth. That being said, she was very conservative, a republican, and was now a minister of her church. I knew my mother loved me, but wasn’t sure or convinced if this love was unconditional or not and fearful to find out if the person I had the most respect for in the world could respect me back.
I picked up the phone, praying she wouldn’t answer, but she is mom and she always answers and she did this time too. I told her “Mom, I need to talk to you about something very important” my voice quivering already. She knew something was wrong by my voice. “What’s wrong son”, she asked. I then proceeded to cry harder than I have ever cried in my life. The fear was more than I could possibly bare. Somehow through my sobbing, I found the strength to mutter, “Promise me, no matter what I tell you, that you will always love me” as I proceeded to cry even harder. Her response is something that I will never forget as long as I live. She said, “Son if you are going to tell me that you are gay, that won’t change the way I feel about you and how much I love you one bit”. Wow, how did she know? I didn’t really care. At that very moment, my life changed forever. I realized that I had been living my entire life ashamed of who I am and not living as God intended me to live. I also realized that the person that I loved most could love me unconditionally. We talked for a long time and she proceeded to ask me a million questions. I remember the one that upset her the most was when she asked me how long I had known? My response was, “Since, I was about 10”. That is the only time I remember her crying, saying how sorry she was that I had, had to live my entire life keeping this secret in fear and how sorry she was that home wasn’t a secure enough place for me to feel like I could be myself. That’s mom. Simply amazing, but home was a great place, we just often fear what we don’t know and I didn’t know if someone could love me unconditionally. She proceeded to ask many more questions and get way to personal, asking things that are not appropriate to talk about in church, nor should a mother and son be talking about. I laughed at her and said, “We aren’t going there yet. That is too much too soon”.
I realized after I hung up the phone that I could then do anything. I had conquered my biggest fear in life. I proceeded to move to Greensboro and begin a new life. A life that consisted of me finally being able to be me and allowing people to see that person. For the first time in my life, I was completely ok with me and realized that I loved the person I was, so why couldn’t others. Much to my surprise , I have dealt with very few people who couldn’t accept me. My sister still struggles I can tell, although she would say she doesn’t. I can tell it embarrasses her. She worries about image and what other people think. I understand that though, and am patient with her, because I struggled all my life with that and hopefully she will continue to grow and get better with that.
Overall though, all of my friends have been great and people I wasn’t sure would be accepting have been amazing. I really think that people have come a long way with this issue over the years and the support is amazing. Religion has always been an important part of my life and honestly something I have never struggled with during all of this. I always knew that God has a place for me. Finding somewhere to worship though where I could be myself and not live in secret, I thought would be challenging. That was until my great friend Scott Smith introduced me to College Park Baptist Church. He said “The people here are amazing, and they could care less. They all have issues to, and we just accept everyone for their issues and who they are”. “It’s a place of genuine love” he said. I tried it out. With everything, I proceeded with caution. Coming every now and then and not really talking to anyone, just really observing and watching. As time passed, I became more and more comfortable. I started to feel like this was home. A place to worship where you didn’t have to be ashamed or be made to feel bad for who God made you to be, a place to worship where you weren’t told that you were going to hell.
I can’t say enough, just how special this place is and how much God is working in this place. A place where people can be comfortable with who they are. See, what many of you don’t realize is, I am not here because there are other gay people worshipping here. I am here because this is a place where heterosexual people stand up for my rights and for me as a person. They don’t treat me any different and love me unconditionally. Many of you have NO idea what a difference you make in our lives. You see, my life long fear was that people wouldn’t love me unconditionally and you do every Sunday. That is why I am here and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that.
Now today when I wake up, I still feel a little bit different than many others. But the difference is that I am at peace with that and thank God for making me how he did, each and every day. I consider it a blessing now to be gay and to have a voice to share, that it’s ok to be just how God made us to be.
Kevin Nicholls, September 2015