Hiding from Myself (★★★★☆)

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Bryan Christopher  *  BC Books *  August 29, 2014  *  486 Pages

Advanced Reader Copy provided by author.

Bryan Christopher grew up in an extremely conservative, evangelical Christian family. He devoted his entire life to his God and his church. He even had a special knack for converting people. He was outgoing, popular, and personable–genuinely adored by his friends and family. From the outside, he looked like any another care-free frat boy, boozing it up at parties, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the sweet life with the ladies. No one in his life would have guessed that he was actually tormented on the inside as he struggled to come to terms with one simple, scary, and unacceptable fact:  he was gay. In Hiding from Myself, Christopher shares what it was like for him to hide, deny, attempt to change, and then finally accept his sexual orientation.

I grew up in the exact same type of environment as the author. Church was a big deal in my family. Regular Sunday services, youth group during the week, evangelism at night, even international outreach–all of us were expected to participate. Church was our life. We never had conversations that didn’t mention Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

I don’t consider myself religious anymore–at least not by my childhood standards–but all the Jesus talk and churchy cliches that Christopher uses in this book are things I’ve heard a million times over. And when he talks about the deep fear and self-loathing he felt for being gay, well, I understand where he’s coming from. I’ve witnessed the anti-gay doublespeak:  “Oh, we love you like Jesus loves you. HOWEVER, your thoughts and feelings are impure, grotesque, unnatural, and disgusting. You need to repent and change, because God doesn’t like fags. Love you, brother!” The judgment and hatred is awful–even scary–and I empathized with Christopher throughout this book. It was sad to see him hate himself so much. No one should have to feel that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. My only minor criticism is that it could have been cut down a bit more. Though Christopher does a good job of keeping the writing balanced and light–even when describing dark moments–I didn’t need so much play-by-play. It was incredibly frustrating to see him find love and acceptance with a man, only to dump him and return to his quest to anti-gay himself…and then repeat the process again and again. I know Christopher is sharing his legitimate journey, but he could have gotten his point across with less detail. It would have helped move the story along.

Still, what an amazing memoir. I truly wish Christopher the best in all things. If anyone deserves to (finally) be happy, it’s him. Good luck to you, Bryan!

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