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The Rent Check

I own and live in a two-family house and rent out the other apartment. I recently nagged my tenant for her rent, which is chronically late. When I returned on a Sunday night, the check was taped to my door. Shortly thereafter I lost the check. I felt so bad about it that I didn’t have the attention to ask her for another check or to search for the original one. I felt horribly, terribly bad. I didn’t just feel like a jerk.1 I felt hated—not just by myself, but by God and all humanity—for being rotten to the core, corrupt, evil.

I am Gay, and I’ve found that many Gay men feel this way. We get the message that we are perverts, pedophiles, sinful—bad because of who we are. Some people hold up signs at our funerals that say, “God hates Fags.”2 Some people think God sent AIDS to humanity to get rid of homosexuals. We internalize these messages. Every Gay man I know is operating on top of feeling bad about himself. If we appear cheerful, “the life of the party,” your favorite confidante, look deeper. Truly reach for us, and you will find feelings of self-hatred—self-hatred and loneliness.

After realizing I had lost the rent check, I distracted myself from the bad feelings by looking at pornography and eating unhealthy food. Then I went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and was faced again with how bad I felt about myself, how hated by the world. I remembered Tim’s3 talks about fighting for ourselves. I realized that I needed to cry out for help from that spot, to get someone in with me, that there was no way I could successfully battle those feelings alone.

I had tried to do that in the past, and it had always been a losing battle. I had been losing that battle since I first started to have sexual feelings for men—in 1984, when I was thirteen years old. There was absolutely no one I could talk to about my sexual feelings or how bad I felt about them. If I had tried to share them, the adults around me would likely have confirmed that they were very bad feelings and that I needed to pray or see a therapist or find some other way to be fixed, because they were so wrong and so sinful.

I grew up Baptist, a type of Protestant. I was told that Jesus loved me no matter what. Whenever things got difficult, he would be there. When I entered adolescence, I found out there was a giant clause in that agreement—that it was conditional on my being heterosexual and having “normal” sexual feelings and attractions to females; that as a Gay person, God actually hated me and wanted me to burn in Hell for all eternity; and that Jesus, my best friend up to that point, was complicit in this. I lost my best friend at the exact time I most needed help. I was also a thirteen-year-old boy, so I wasn’t supposed to ever need, much less ask for, help from anyone.

Finally, after twenty years of RC, I have been able to call for help. I can finally feel other RCers with me in this struggle. I may have been buried by an avalanche of distress, but I am not pushing back against it alone. Discharge has been voluminous.

I hope every man reading this, especially the Gay men, can find a way to call for help from the place you feel most bad about yourself. I am finally seeing the possibility of living a life without chronically hating myself. This new life, unburdened by all the misery and self-hatred, is still hard to imagine. I am scared. It seems unfamiliar. But I am mostly looking forward to it.

Now let me see if I can find that rent check.

"Henry Church"
Reprinted from the RC e-mail
discussion list for leaders of men


1 “A jerk” means an unlikable, obnoxious person.
2 “Fags” is a derogatory term for Gay men.
3 Tim Jackins'


Last modified: 2020-07-02 14:27:35+00