I have been on a spiritual quest for as long as I can remember. When I came out as gay, it shook the foundations of everything I believed. Yet I could not let go of the quest. It was as much a part of me as being gay — no, more so. But let me back up and tell you my story.
My name is David Gormong. I grew up in a conservative Christian home, the youngest of four boys. I was always drawn to the mysterious, the infinite, the transcendent. Along with everything else religious, I absorbed the belief that being gay was sinful — an abomination. I knew from early on that I was different than most boys. I slowly realized in my teens that I was attracted to men, and my heart recoiled with searing shame. I feared damnation. It would be decades before I could admit even to myself that I was gay. Sexuality and spirituality both became fearful, each pushing me, it seemed, in opposite directions. I could not resolve the conflict.
As a young adult, I opted to go with my religious beliefs and bracket my sexuality. I served as a pastor in evangelical churches for over twenty years. I loved the work. I enjoyed counseling, teaching, and helping others connect with God. To fulfill the expectations of my faith, my family, and my friends, I tried to be straight. I married. I had children, two beautiful daughters. Oh, I tried desperately to be straight. I prayed. I fasted. I went through rounds of therapy. Of course, it didn’t work.
Meanwhile, I discovered the great spiritual writers, and I couldn’t get enough. I was especially captivated by the Christian mystics. Here was an approach to God that resonated powerfully with me. To be honest, I thought if I could go deep enough spiritually, I could overcome being gay. In fact, the deeper I went spiritually, the more I came to accept myself as a gay man. My experience of God in prayer taught me what the doctrines of the church did not: my sexuality was held in God’s warm embrace of all that is.
Then I fell in love. Wow! It felt so right. But I still had a commitment to my straight marriage. I faced a gut-wrenching impasse. Did I keep my marriage vows or did I integrate my sexuality? There seemed to be no right answer. It took me a year to decide what to do.
I came out. And it blew my world apart. I lost so much — marriage, friendships, career, security. I was in the middle of a doctoral program in spirituality at the time. Yet I found myself questioning everything I believed. Eventually, I put the doctorate on hold, and began to rebuild my life.
Many gay men of my generation give up the spiritual quest when they come out. I understand. But I could not. Just as I learned to trust my experience of being gay above what others said, I had to trust my spiritual experience too. Years before, centering prayer had opened up in me an infinite space that was peaceful, blissful, welcoming, embracing. This experience of the transcendent was more real to me than all I could see, hear, or touch. I had to continue the quest. But what did I believe?
I began to explore the world’s major religions. I discovered that all the major traditions have found ways of opening their followers to the Infinite. They use different language to describe the spiritual journey. Yet there seems to be a single unnamable, transcendent something toward which they all point, the same transcendent something I experienced in centering prayer.
Today, my heart and mind are open to all the great traditions. Personally, I resonate most with the classical yoga tradition and the Christian mystical tradition which I studied for so long. They’re not mutually exclusive. Classical yoga, an ancient ancestor of the exercise yoga we know today, is much like the Christian practice of centering prayer. Both are ways of quieting and focusing the mind and heart to become aware of an infinite Presence.
I have believed for several years now that I would one day return to the work of caring for others on the spiritual journey. I sense that time has come. I am especially drawn to LGBTQ persons, because we are so often marginalized by religious communities. We need safe spaces where we can heal and explore a spirituality that speaks to us. I want to help create some of those safe spaces.
What is your story? Could you use someone to talk with about your spiritual journey? I am here for you. I have the training and experience to be a spiritual companion. I would enjoy walking with you on the hero’s journey of your life.