Romania, 1979 – 2000
Well I grew up being told by everyone at home or school that I am an Orthodox Christian, but I never actually knew what that meant let alone given a chance to choose..although I am told I DID resist being baptised (at the age of 1) by peeing inside that church (actually inside my godmother’s boots) as I was held up high in the face of Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary.
Later in my teen tears I tried reading through the Bible so that I can understand what is this religious faith only to be always finding it all too often like a man made super fantasy tale. I remember hearing random people questioning the existence of God because someone unfairly died again or yet another catastrophic event around the world had happened, and also my own big question (why am I attracted to same sex people?).. without much logic to why He seems to be more absent than present. Wasn’t He meant to be looking over us, helping us, making things easier? But soon these very people would forget to doubt and search elsewhere for answers and you would see them back in church a week later, candle in hand. A bit disorientating for a kid my age. I do very well remember having Religion as a subject in school, and how much many of us hated that. Much to do with our priest/teacher perhaps which had a very strict, vicious, forceful way of teaching and punishing nevertheless. Every time throwing or, striking his heavy belt + buckle at us whenever we spoke out of line, incorrect answers or even giggled. He puzzled me..I always thought he was in fact Satan but through some miracle power he got to be a child beating priest. Nobody could complain about it; still it was too soon after the Communism fell with much fear of speaking out around.
Anyhow, after much heard and observed, I decided that my Biology book was the most interesting book I laid eyes upon and never picked the Bible up again. Still only 15 and having accumulated my own doubts in regards to His omnipresent existence, I decided That concept is better left on a side for now as it’s too ‘heavy’ trying to accept it and instead focused on school and hobbies.
Funny thing is I didn’t actually lose that fear of denying God all together as I was still quite scared at the existence and possibility of spending eternity in Hell.
My mother at times would remind me to say prayers before bed time but my godmother, being the most faithful out of all, would take me round the country to visit some of the most famous churches and touch some of the holy relics in hope that ALL will be well. I must admit I was too young to refuse and make my own clever remarks but I remember too well my head was just full of distress. There was a mummified corpse surrounded by dozens of desperate people praying and wailing at it as if it was going to get up and do something about their problems. Part of me hoped the mummy would do just that so we can all see and brace it’s holy power but all I could feel in the end was fear, sickness, huge hopes and disappointment. I would look around as if in a museum, the lavish gold adornments, mosaic windows and some quite impressive paintings all over the ceilings and walls, but would soon want to get out..quickly and take a breath of fresh air.
I decided one day that if God existed he wouldn’t mind me praying at home or in the forrest or on the bus and that he could listen to me anywhere. So I did just that for another few years, ignoring everything else connected to religion, just me and God in mind.
Worth mentioning perhaps is that my older brother was lucky enough to be kind of born an atheist regardless of what was happening around us. I never remember him saying a prayer or being keen to talk about God..and he is laughing about it all now. I was alone in this and I imagine all of us are at some point when making big decisions. I knew I was gay before I knew God didn’t exist so I decided to deal with that first. Telling that, admitting to being gay was definitely not an easy thing, I had to get away from my country first of all so that I do not get pointed at on the streets when they all eventually find out. I ran.
UK, 2000 – present
I was 19. Mother finds out first.. she was/is always my strongest support.. I get understood but emotions run free. I was to tell nobody else for fear of judgement and embarrassing repercussions but I couldn’t stop there. I wanted everyone to know. And they do now. And all is mighty fine..beside my godmother, who would never understand it.. so I let her be happy in her own belief bubble, and maybe never takle both issues as she is too far down in believing. Knowing her she may even plot to lock me in a monastery until I come out looking like Jesus. It was a fight that lasted over 20 years, myself being gay… Little was I to know that the fight with God will last 10 years more.
Feels like I am winning on a personal level but joy is short as I cannot help seeing the bigger picture, the time it takes to change such myths, the strong opposition, the soldier I have involuntarily become. The idiocy around me is depressing but at least I am a new person, free from dogma and fear of truth, free from unholy ties with the priests, Gods and misconnected beliefs and totally accept my role as a ‘whatever’ (aid I might be) for this world and furthermore can only hope the future will shine a clearer light on the subject; we will have bigger mountains of evidence to shut God off.
I would like very much to thank some of my closest friends Raluca and Patricia whom helped me finally ‘come out’ as an atheist (attended TAM 2010) and still see the light at the end of the tunnel as well as Richard Dawkins and his enlightening books, Charles Darwin for his pioneering theories and courage and to those people alike us whom are not afraid to stay tall in front of a Pope, Christian, Muslim or Satanist and say ‘wake up!’.
Many thanks and best of luck forward!