I am a gay Christian. This whole Chick-fil-A controversy meant nearly nothing to me until I saw a picture of my conservative parents (whom I love deeply) on Facebook yesterday proudly holding their Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
I broke down crying in front of my computer screen. And since I'm not good with speaking how I feel, I wrote my mother a Facebook message with my concerns about the photos.
She took them down and apologized for the insensitivity. She was just supporting a man's right for "freedom of speech."
I told her I had thought she was further along with accepting who I was. But I don't think she is. That's my fault. I should have sat down with her and forced the subject.
Until this Chick-fil-A debacle forced an uncomfortable conversation, we've always pushed it aside and just went on living life. Mom said she loved me and needed time to reply. She's in a "bad place." I can understand that. We have a lot further to go with our relationship.
I want my mother in my life. We love each other unconditionally. They had no idea how their Chick-fil-A photos would affect me. I realized I hadn't told them about the countless times I sat crying in my bedroom, alone, from age 10, praying as hard as I could for God to change who I was. I wished and prayed, "Please God, change who I am. I want to be normal."
There were so many times I wished I was dead. It took me years, but I can now say proudly that I believe, I am a product of God.
Today, I walked past a Chick-fil-A restaurant and the line was out the door. I couldn't help but thinking everyone in that line hated me — and then I thought of my parents.
Did they hate me too? Of course, some of these people were just hungry. Some of them just wanted a piece of chicken or a delicious waffle fry, but I looked at each one of them and I saw the faces of my parents. I was devastated.
I know everyone has a personal opinion of gays. I'm a regular person. I have feelings. I have a boyfriend whom I love. I love his family, and I would love for him to meet mine. I don't go out and lead a promiscuous party life. I like staying at home, watching a movie on the couch with him, enjoying a glass of wine. One day, I'd love to walk into church holding his hand with rings on our fingers.
It's funny that a silly chicken restaurant made think so much about my life, but I'm glad it did.
I know I'm normal. I just wish the rest of the world could see that too, especially my parents.
JUSTIN MICHAEL is a gay, Christian actor and singer living in New York City.