I’ve 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 — or more so really. 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 difficult, 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 to ex-gay meetings, did rounds of therapy — maybe you know the routine. 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 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 or refocus my gay desires. In fact, the opposite happened. The deeper I went spiritually, the more I came to accept myself as a gay man. My experience of God in prayer and meditation 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, family relationships, 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. There’s just too much pain around anything that smells like religion. I couldn’t take that route. 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 Infinite 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. They name (or don’t name) the Infinite in various ways. Yet there seems to be a similar experience toward which they all point, the experience I had 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 Vedanta. Of course, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the Christian mystics I studied so long. These traditions are not mutually exclusive. Classical yoga, an ancient ancestor of the postural yoga we know today, is much like the Christian practice of centering prayer. Both are ways of quieting and focusing the heart-mind to become aware of an infinite Presence.
I name yoga and the Christian mystics. These are just languages really, ways of talking about the nameless. I don’t insist on words. I want to learn your language. I believe we each can find a way to experience infinite belonging. It’s the experience of it that matters to me, not what we call it. It is resting in this infinite, welcoming “space” that heals us.
I have believed for several years now that I would one day return to the work of caring for others on the spiritual journey. In 2018, I sensed the time had come, and I began to serve as a spiritual companion. 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.
What is your story? Could you use someone to talk with about your journey? I am here for you. I have the training and experience to be a spiritual companion. I would enjoy walking the path with you.