Gay Christian YouTuber Bradley Birkholz grew up being told “demonic forces” were possessing him.
Raised in an “Evangelical, conservative, Republican household” in rural California, coming out as gay was “very anxiety-inducing” for Birkholz.
He told PinkNews what it was like growing up believing he was having “temptations from the devil.”
Watch Bradley Birkholz’s coming out story below:
Coming out as gay and Christian
“A lot of people these days think coming out is a pretty easy process and not really that much of a big deal anymore,” Birkholz, 22, told PinkNews.
“But for me, somebody who grew up in an Evangelical, conservative, Republican household in America, it was not very easy at all.
“When you grow up in the church, especially a very kind of spiritual and mystic church like the one I grew up in, you’re taught that homosexual feelings are actually temptations from the devil.
“I prayed so hard to try and pray the gay away.
“Not matter how much I prayed, not matter how much I went to church, no matter how much I tried to find myself attracted to women, it didn’t work.”
Can you be religious and LGBT?
Despite finding his own community—including finding and feeling welcomed in pro-gay Christian spaces—Birkholz says he the “very stressful” period of coming out within his church has led him to question his faith.
He now shares his experiences to help fellow LGBT+ Christians navigate faith and sexuality in a YouTube series.
“I am no longer religious because I did feel rejected by the church,” he explained.
“But I also know now it is absolutely acceptable to be religious and LGBT+.
“You are valid exactly the way you are—despite what a religious leader might be telling you.”