I struggled with myself, feeling different from others. At school, but also at home. I didn’t really know who I was and sought happiness in the wrong things. Watched porn and liked to go shopping. If I didn’t have money, I stole it. From my parents, from my friends.

When I was fifteen, I got caught. The acquaintances from whom I had stolen called the police. My behavior came to the surface, was detained for a few days, and I was given 120-hour community service. I decided never to do it again. Meanwhile, I discovered the gay bars. I drank a lot, smoked a joint regularly and had a lot of sex. On Grindr (ed. a dating app for gay and bisexual men) I scored dates. At one point, an older man paid me for sex. Something snapped. The fence was drawn. I no longer had a conscience and in the moment everything felt good, I got a kick out of it, while my life was terribly empty.

It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I dared to come out of the closet. My parents’ reaction was relaxed. The people around me were fine with it. But strangers sometimes found it awkward. After going out I was beaten up once by a complete stranger. We came out of the pub and he hit me out of nowhere. My jaw was broken and three teeth were chipped. Of course I was angry, but I also felt sorry for him. Because of the high bills, I filed charges, but from me he didn’t need to be punished. I wanted to show him that I am a normal person. That I can’t help falling for men and that I really don’t fall in love with every random man.

My parents raised me religiously, but I didn’t do anything with the faith anymore. If my parents made me go with them I went, but it didn’t touch me. And then 3.5 years ago, a friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver. I was advised to read the book “The Boy Who Was in Heaven.” While reading, I was shaken up. I felt there was a God who was also there for me. I used to always think I would go to hell. That He was disappointed in me. While reading, I experienced that God reached out a hand to me and I grabbed it, I felt that He was listening to me, that I could say anything. Then it started to grow. I wanted to know more, went back to church and two years ago did a part-time Bible school with Youth with a Mission. I made confession and was baptized in the Waal last August.

My life has changed. I no longer go to the gay clubs and pubs. To those around me, I apologized. My parents had a hard time with me, but they always continued to support me. I want to spend my time with God and tell people about Jesus. I do youth work in the church and do refugee work. I have gained peace and freedom and hope to inspire others with my story, but also show that there is always a way back. Even if you don’t love yourself anymore or you think you’ve ruined it, He loves you. Life with Him only gives real joy.