Coming Out In Christ
My name is Samuel Perez, I am currently 24 years old. I wanted to share my story because I believe that God is moving in a community that there has been a lot of confusion, a lot of rejection. And I think my story and the way that God has worked is important because it is so relatable to so many other people out there, who have not experienced the love of Jesus, and who are longing and wanting to have a connection with God.
I grew up in a Christian household. My mom and my dad, they were incredible. My mom specifically was on fire for the Lord. My dad was studying in seminary, and they loved, they loved God. And they raised us up just really being lovers of Jesus. When I was a little boy, I always knew that there is something different about me compared to the other little boys. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was kind of like a David. I had like the spirit of creativity and arts and expression. And I loved colors. And I even like Barbies, and I liked dresses, and I liked long hair. I didn’t necessarily identify with being female, but I just loved all the beauty in the world.
I loved singing all of the time. I remember that one of my favorite songs in Spanish was Enciende la Luz. And it just means “turn on the light.” And I would go around my house, just singing, “Lord, turn on the light, turn on the light.” I remember encountering Jesus as a little boy singing that song, “He holds the whole world in His hands.” And I would look at my TV and the song would be playing on my TV. And there’s like a visual, and I’d see the whole world in His hands. And I just, I would watch that video over and over and over like little kids do. And I would just sing it, sing along to it, which is He holds the whole world in His hands. He holds the whole world in His hands… I don’t know what it was like, I just felt like I knew Him and I, and I loved Him. I was secure that He loved me too, and that He was going to take care of not just me, but the whole world.
So as I grew up, the boys that I knew, especially in Miami and Florida, and growing up in kind of a machismo, which is just like a macho culture all about men and masculinity. I just didn’t relate to that. I didn’t like any sports, I didn’t like getting hurt. I liked being inside. So my dad was very as well, very macho, and he was a man’s man. I don’t think we communicated on a deep level the way that he communicated with my brother on a deep level. And so I communicated a lot to women in my life, my mother, my grandmother. It was, it was difficult to try to find my identity, like looking at other men and them just telling me that if I didn’t like this, I was, from the get go, I was gay. You know, like, there’s something wrong with him because he doesn’t, he doesn’t act like the other little boys. Or he sings songs all day, you know? And I like, as a little boy, I was like, Okay, well, maybe there is something wrong with me. I was heavily bullied in school for just being very feminine. I would move my hands in a way that was very feminine and I would speak with a kind of a feminine voice. I had a high pitched voice, which is, I guess, normal for singers. But at the time, I didn’t see that. And so I kind of had to ask myself the question, “Am I gay? Do I like boys?” Because people my age are getting into relationships and the boys in my class were having girlfriends, and if I didn’t get a girlfriend, soon, they were going to think that I was different. And then there’s going to be even more bullying and that was super scary.
Growing up in the church, that was the first thing that you would hear about – how being gay was wrong, especially if you were in a Baptist Church. It was like, gay is wrong. Being homosexual is the worst sin. You’re going to hell if you’re, if you have gay thoughts, and so it was really scary and frightening. So I was basically dealing with this all on my own. I was scared to tell my parents about what I was going through. Because I was, I had heard horrible stories of children being kicked out of their homes. And I don’t know, it was, it was like my worst nightmare. I had so much fear attached and I don’t know if it was supernatural, if it was demonic. But there was so much fear with this secret that um, I was becoming attracted to other boys. I ended up coming out to my parents and telling them “Hey, I am having these attractions towards men and I think that I am gay.” And that was a whole story. It was super hard for me to come out to my parents. And my mom, I told my mom first because I knew she was going to handle it better than my dad. And my mom just basically told me, you know, you have two options, you can follow Jesus, and you can go to heaven, or you can follow your own flesh and you know, you know where that’s going to end up, you’re going to go to hell, basically. I still didn’t know what I wanted at this point. I still didn’t know where I was with God, I just I just knew that I loved Him and I wanted a relationship with Him. But I didn’t know how to take this to God, because I felt like God would hate me if I did.
I ended up going to this church that I was invited to. And there is a pastor that asked my friend for my number, and he was the youth pastor at the time. And he texted me, and he said, Look, I don’t usually do this, but I feel like God has something really special for your life. And so um, with obviously, the, the permission of your parents, can I come over and talk to you in your home? And I said, Sure. So I invited him over while my parents were there. He sat down at the table with me, and he said,”Look, God has already told me about your situation, that you’re attracted to men and all this stuff, and, and he’s like, but the good news is that I believe that God has something really special in your life.” Then he also prophesied that I was going to write a book, and that I was going to help many people. And then he said that I was going to have a nation like wide calling, so that the nations would know my name. And then he told me on the back of my book, he said that he saw me with my wife and kids. He also prophesied, he’s like, you’re gonna get a car this summer, which was true, I got a car that summer.
So everything he said was like, incredible. It was like, this guy was from the Lord. And it was just me and him. He didn’t do it in front of the church. He didn’t do it for the crowd. It was just me and him at that table. And so he left and I spent some time, I spent a summer in that church. And his words really touched me. But at the same time, I thought to myself, I’ll never get to kiss someone that I like – because at that point, I had never kissed anyone. I never dated anyone. I’ll never get to experience feelings of euphoria in a relationship. And so it was, when people would ask me, “Oh, what are you going to do now that you are in the church?” that summer. I just said, “Well, I just want to give myself all to the Lord.” But a little part of me was saying, No, like, I want to explore this. It got to the point where I ended up leaving the church, and I just didn’t, it was too overwhelming for me. I felt like the calling over my life was too much. And I didn’t want to be a pastor. I didn’t want to do ministry, I thought, I don’t want to. That’s not what I want. I’m, that’s too much. That’s too much pressure. And so I left the church.
So the world was telling me, Oh, you’re a good singer, then, and you like art, then you should go into theater, you should be an actor, you should explore these types of outlets. And the world was telling me “Oh, things are just gonna get better.” Um, there was a campaign running at the time that I never forgot. Different celebrities were coming on the TV, and they were saying, “Things are gonna get better.” So I thought to myself, I was very optimistic. I’m like, Okay, well, things are just gonna get better, even though I don’t feel okay, I don’t have peace from God, at this moment, things later on will get better. And that was a lie from the enemy. And so things did not get better, they got a lot worse, a lot worse. And I explored that aspect.
I ended up going to school for theater, a conservatory program and that didn’t really fulfill me. And I thought it would, and it didn’t. And so I ended up leaving that. And throughout this whole time, I was exploring myself sexually. So I was having encounters with men through dating apps, which was normal in the gay community. I was going to clubs for the first time and my main thing was, I want to fall in love. Like, I feel like it’s possible for two men to go through that. And so I didn’t know that at the time, it just is, I don’t believe that that’s love. I believe that that is lust. And there’s a big difference. What does it say? Love is kind. Love is patient. Love is not self seeking. All these things that we in our, in our world is the opposite because it’s what you want. It’s not, it’s kind of like a one-way road. It’s everything about what I want and how you can make me feel and it’s all about feelings. And love is not a feeling. It’s a decision. It’s a choice. It’s a discipline, just like Jesus shows us and that’s what He taught me about sonship too, which was, He taught me the difference between love and lust and when He was in the garden of Gethsemane, it was very clear that it was not a feeling; He did not want to do it. It was the decision He made for all of humankind, humanity.
I ended up having sex with many men, not because I was even promiscuous but just because I was wanting to be loved and that was the normal in that community. I ended up not feeling happy in Miami and I wanted to move to New York and so I did. I got a job as a personal trainer. I always loved helping people. That was something that was part of my identity, even through that lifestyle. And my relationship with Jesus never faded. I think that’s the supernatural component in my story, is that He made me feel like He was there through it all, because I never felt abandoned. I just didn’t know how I could love Jesus with these feelings. And so I would just go to church every Sunday and not tell anyone about my situation, unless they asked, and I would, after Sunday, just continue to live my life. And when I would go hook up with guys or go on dates, I would always try to include Jesus. I’d say, “Jesus, you know, protect me while I do this. I know this is not a part of Your word.” So I knew the truth. But it was almost just like, I don’t know how to reconcile that with the truth. I did not feel valuable, I always felt like I had to prove my value. I decided to get my value from the gay community by stripping.
The strippers and drag queens were some of the most, I would say, popular, famous people in the community. And so I was like, I want to have a lot of friends, I want to be popular, I want people to like me and so I ended up stripping. And that was kind of my gateway into the real queer community in New York City. I saw things that I’ll never forget and also have really helped me in my ministry. I went into that community thinking that I would come out of it loved and valued. And at each turn, I was feeling more and more empty. So I ended up leaving New York City and getting an opportunity to sail on a cruise ship, working for this company in Australia. And so I was on the seas for around two months, and thinking that that would make me happy. And that didn’t make me happy either. So I was like, I’ll try this, I’ll try this, I’ll try this. Nothing was making me happy. And my, my relationships with men were terrible, like the gay men.
So I remember one night, I was just really dealing with heavy depression. And I went to the Lord in my bed, and I was very suicidal at this point. I’d pretty much done everything that I wanted to do in my life, I had explored every avenue, every venue, every relationship, and I saw that it was empty, it was so empty. Everywhere I went, it was just empty. There was no hope in anything. I just didn’t think the spiritual world was real anymore. And so I said to God, well, first off, I remember my mom telling me something that was spiritual. She said that, “There sometimes is a world around us that we cannot see and so God is trying to give us a message. But we cannot receive that message because we’ve either built up walls, or there are demonic powers at play, that are stopping that message from getting through.” And so and I, I knew that that was also biblical, because I remember reading about that in the story of Daniel, where he had to contend and he had to intercede and he had to pray and at the end of his fast is when he received the message from God. So the Holy Spirit spoke through my mom’s words, and, and reminded me that the world was spiritual. And so I said, Okay, well, whatever, if the world is spiritual, God, I was like, I’m gonna try to help You out here. Ha ha–I’m gonna try to help out God. So I put on my phone, I put on a Spotify playlist, and I just put on worship music. And I did a very simple prayer, I said, “God, I am so tired. I’m so depressed and tomorrow, I’m going to take my life.” And I said, “If You really are real and You really love me, now’s Your opportunity. Here’s some worship music God, so that You can do what You need to do.” So I sat in my bed, and I went to sleep with the worship music on and when I woke up, I felt completely different. Like someone had stuck a needle in me with adrenaline or steroids and I felt this joy and excitement in life that I never, ever like, I hadn’t felt that feeling in a very, very long time. All I was accustomed to was waking up in the mornings and just feeling depressed or just feeling empty. And so I felt full for the first time in my life. And I was like, I don’t know what this is. I was like, I don’t know if this is Jesus, if this is Mohammed. If this is Buddha, I don’t know what it is. But I called out to Jesus, so I’m assuming it’s Jesus.
So I went down and I kneeled before my bed and I said, “Lord, I’m, I’m going to take this as a sign that You really are real and that You do exist. I’m going to move in faith. And I don’t want my life. I told You, I was going to kill myself today. So You can have my life. I’m gonna let You do things Your way now. Now that I’ve explored everything, I’m gonna let You do it your way.” And even just speaking about this now in this instant, I’m kind of reminded of the prodigal son. The father never stopped being a father to the prodigal son, even though the prodigal son was away, that was still his father throughout that whole time. And so in that moment, I dedicated my life to God. And it was like that prodigal son story, I came running back into His arms. My supernatural encounter with Jesus that night, mixed with my learnings about the Bible, and putting those two together is what really helped me to define that God was real, and that Jesus loved me, and that He was going to take care of me.
And back to my sexuality, I remember praying, I said, “God, if You want to change me,” because at this point, I didn’t even care about my sexuality. I was like, I’ve done that. And I thought to myself, “Jesus, if You want to change me, and if You want me to have a wife, or if You want me to live with same sex attraction, whatever You want, like I believe, and I trust that You’re going to do the work.”
And He didn’t change me. Like, the attractions, they didn’t go away right away. And there’s some things that God extremely delivered me like He, He delivered me out of the dating apps, that was such a huge addiction. I didn’t sleep with another man for a year and a half period. And then I had some, you know, fallings out. But a whole year and a half of not sleeping with men, like, where I would sleep with men constantly, every single week. So He delivered me out of so much, but the attraction still remained. And I’m not saying God can’t remove it, because He can. But for some reason, He’s left that there, maybe as, as a, as a point of suffering. I was reading just earlier in Hebrews 5:8 where it says, Jesus learned obedience through suffering.
And I believe that when we suffer, it’s a good thing. Like we grow, and we’re molded and I think it’s not a curse, it’s actually a blessing, because it makes me more dependent on God. Every single day, when I have to struggle, I have to be like, I need to go to my Father. I need to go to Jesus. And He is changing me. Because I remember when I did fall back into sex, and I felt so much guilt, I felt so much shame. The minute after it happened, I didn’t like it. It wasn’t the same anymore for me. The Lord led me through that situation, obviously, I failed. But He still worked it out for good to show me, “Hey, you’re not the same person that you used to be. Because before this would fulfill you, and now it doesn’t.”
Now today, what God is doing in my life is, I believe that my story and my mission, and my message that I want to give out is, number one, that God loves the LGBTQ community, and that He doesn’t come with a set of rules that we need to follow or that we need to be. Jesus loves the sinner. It’s the love that changes the sinner. And so I believe you can go to Jesus in whatever state of where you are. When Jesus came to visit me that night, He didn’t wait for me to change. He said, “I’m going to love you and that’s going to produce a change within you.”
So I think one of the things that is lacking the most in the church is the fact that there has been, I think, little trust in God, and having faith in God, to do what God wants for that person’s life. Because what does it say? Darkness does not comprehend the light. That’s the biggest thing, is that we don’t trust God enough, that Light can really diminish the darkness in someone’s life. So when you encourage, when you prophesy, when you love someone, that does a work. Like, it’s not the negative that’s going to do the work. It’s not you reminding the person, “Hey, homosexuality is wrong, and you need to change it. You’re sick, or you have, you’re broken or you have a mental problem.” You know, whatever it is or, “We need to convert you and do conversion therapy.” No, then you don’t believe the words of Jesus. You don’t believe that Light really does have power. You don’t believe that the sacrifice of Jesus was enough. Because that’s all He did. He just loved people with His own life – selflessly.
So He did change me to the point that now I’m a radical Jesus follower. I am a biblical literature student. I love the Bible. Every day, I get to make YouTube videos and I get to tell people about Jesus, and He’s become my lover. He’s become my husband. I’ve become His bride. And I don’t know if a woman is going to come but I never, I always, I always say this in everything that I do: “Heterosexuality is not the goal. The goal is to love Jesus with all of your heart, your mind, your soul, every part of you, that’s the goal.” And He will lead you to whatever it is that He’s destined and He’s, and He’s called you to in your life. And that’s it.