My experience with mysticism began at an early age due to my parents’ influence. My dad’s parents were immigrants during World War II and were deeply religious, presumably as a result of experiencing and witnessing such tragedy. They raised my dad and his siblings as Baptist. My mom, a Puerto Rican in Manhattan, grew up as Catholic. When my parents had me and my sister, they raised us as Baptist.
I was very involved in the Baptist church for a majority of my childhood. I attended church regularly on Sunday, Vacation Bible School in the summer, and youth groups. Many of my friends at the time were Christian too, although different denominations, but I joined their youth groups in addition to my own. Therefore, at one point in time, I was part of three youth groups. The youth groups were my favorite form of involvement because they were smaller and therefore more personal. We also did fun activities such as games and day trips, but there was always a spiritual element to it.
As I got older, my involvement with different churches became more exciting and I gained more responsibility. I went camping several times, one of the most memorable ones was for a week and we went on different excursions such as white water rafting and kayaking. I became a camp counselor at Vacation Bible School. My first concerts were Christian rock concerts and I went to a national Christian convention in DC where there were concerts and lectures. My friend’s church held parties for the locals to dance, play games, eat, and listen to live music. Churches worked hard to retain kids as they grew up by utilizing adventure and excitement.
Although I participated in a ton of thrilling activities through different local churches, ultimately I felt sad and lonely. I struggled to connect with my peers at the main Baptist church my family went to, despite how involved I was. I felt similarly at the other churches because I didn’t extend myself beyond the friends that took me to there. I suppose the main connection I felt I had at all of these churches was to God, but that eventually diminished as I went through puberty and became curious about what kids going through puberty typically become curious about. The main issue though, was that I wasn’t obtaining the answers I needed or having the conversations that I wanted. Those conversations included topics like sex, dating, masturbating, homosexuality…
I was deeply homophobic during this period of my life. I wasn’t being told that homosexuality was bad per se, but special topic pages in my youth bible claimed that it was, so I believed it was bad.
A couple of years after relinquishing my firm belief in God in favor of faith in myself, I came out to myself and then to my family.
© 2017 Vic Romero
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