I was brought up traditionally in the Church of England. Basically you were christened, confirmed, married and buried according to the rites of the church, BUT you did not talk about God or religion. It wasn't the done thing. Because of my feelings of not belonging, I became involved in the evangelical church - specifically the Baptist Church (UK). Having "accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour" on the day of the Holy Spirit on an Alpha course, I soon gravitated towards the charismatic movement, my motivation always being trying to fit in, even though it was proving increasingly difficult, mainly due to the gradual realization that I was a square peg in a round hole.
It was made plain to me that the Bible was the Word of God, so we did not question what it taught - for example that it was clear in its condemnation of homosexuality. I was always aware that I hid a dark secret which if I had revealed it I would have been told that I needed deliverance and prayer if I wanted to avoid the certainty of going to hell.
My ex-wife helped me come out as a gay man in November 2011, knowing that effectively our marriage was at an end. She and I are still close, although I now have a partner from the Far East whom I will marry and we will settle down here.
From the time of coming out, I was able to re-engage with my true self. I now live the life I was always meant to live. I told someone (somewhat cheekily!) that when I came out, I felt born again. There is a verse which means a lot to me: You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. I am now comfortable in my own skin.
I look at my time as an evangelical charismatic Christian as one, characterized mostly by brain washing and hypocrisy, although I don't discount everything which happened. At that time I had a "picture" of my wearing a suit of armour in the desert. The armour was so tight-fitting I could hardly breathe. Then suddenly the suit of armour fell off and I was free. That was my experience in November 2011.
I'm a writer and have published a collection of poetry and short stories entitled: In My Mind's Eye. Below is a poem which has meant a lot to me. I wrote the first version a few years before coming out. I then changed it afterwards. Here it is:
When we arose from the ground on angel-wings,
And like the mighty eagle, soared high
Among the wispy clouds,
We whistled into the gale,
Laughed at the growling thunder,
And out of the driving storm
Knew we’d see beyond the rainbow’s arch
Into the panorama of crystal, blue sky,
And we moved through the breathless
Heat of the sun.
- Bill (Drayton)
Note: Bill's story is included in the UK edition of a book entitled: Our Witness: The Unheard Stories of LGBT+ Christians