I was brought up in a Christian home. All four of my grandparents (God rest their souls), my father (had), and my mother still has a palpable faith in God and a relationship with Christ. They had to. They were Black people living in the South. Their faith is my heritage. I accepted Christ as my savior when I was sixteen. Nothing made me happier knowing that one day I’d get to meet Jesus face to face.

As early as elementary school, I knew that I preferred the company of my male classmates. In high school, the full definition of the term “fag” eluded me, but I knew enough to know that I didn’t want to receive the patent ostracism that accompanied the epithet. So I used my accomplishments in other areas—student government, yearbook, band, Honor Society, theater—as diversions and deflector shields to protect myself from a truth I was not ready to acknowledge.