Camps were never something I enjoyed. I always remember the bad times when I went to a camp all by myself and the endless moments I cried due to feeling homesick, getting frustrated for small things or just a negative experience; but when I went to "Camp Awaken" I thought it would be the same story but it turns out it was even worse. Camp Awaken became one of my biggest regrets.
Well, here's the story:
I always turned down offers to attend the yearly Christian camp at some Christian College with the same old excuse of disliking camps. Somehow, I decided to go to last year's one: Camp Awaken. It was May if I recall correctly. I peeked through the door and told her I have changed my mind. About a month and a few weeks later, my name was written and the money was paid. I remember I was quite anxious since in two months I'll be attending a camp. I'll be surrounded by teenagers from my church who I never talked to but I was quite hopeful we could become friends. I was hoping to be spiritually touched as others were in the previous years.
I was touched emotionally. I was so touched that I would break into tears as bitterly remember that evening conference.
Moving fast forward to June, I was laying in bed one afternoon. It was the pride month day, and I was reflecting on some current small experiences I had. Then it hit me, I realized I was bisexual. At first, I tried to deny it because I was afraid of what my religious family would think but then I learned to accepted and love that side of me. I like to think that small discovery as a big step into self-love. I was still processing but I was also starting to see myself differently in the mirror. Nowadays, I'm more relax to say I identify as bi to some of my classmates and friends. Anyways, let's continue the story.
My family was from my homeland was visiting so we hang around for a bit before my cousin and his friend decided to attend also the camp along with another cousin of mine. I was thrilled. I was not going to be alone and I'll have my cousins to hang out with. I thought "Hey, we can even deepen our relationship and maybe start becoming friends!" Suddenly the idea of Camp awaken wasn't bad. The day arrived and we waited inside the church for our bus to arrive.
As we waited, we were called to meet our camp leaders. My cousin and I had different leaders. No cousin as my roommate, it was a small letdown. The bus finally arrived, I was anxious but my cousins were there for me...temporarily. I don't blame them for wanting to hang out with their friends, I'm sure they never intended to feel make me left out (After all, they were the only people I was close in this camp) another letdown. We arrived at the camp and spent around two hours stuck in a small lobby sitting around waiting for our rooms. I was glad I wasn't claustrophobic. After moving to our rooms twice, because someone made a mistake and placed us in a room where people were already set, we got to choose our roommates. My cousin went with her friend, no problemo I'll try to make friends with my roommate (Which someone had to choose 'cause I was Ms. newbie).
Roommate rarely went to the room. Another letdown. Yay!
To make matters worse, guess who had a meltdown after such amazing negative experiences? I was regretting my decision in just 4 hours on day one. Things wouldn't get worse for me, wouldn't they? Well, I say two words: Evening conference.
I was stuck for 3 hours straight listening to a confusing message just for the pastor to randomly throw homosexuality (As a bad thing obviously...) in his prayer about his confusing message. In the camp, they would just randomly throw the word even if it makes no sense at all. I was pissed and just wished to go into my room sleep. I was stuck for about 20 minutes, at midnight, watching a game of dodgeball. Goodnews, I was allowed to go back into my room (We used the buddy system, for those who are wondering why I didn't go to my room in the first place, where we have to have a buddy whenever we go.)
Day 2, I tried to calm myself down and give "Camp awaken" a second opinion. Walked around the college with my leader since I couldn't go to the water activities because a certain someone decided to appear in the same week as the camp. I was stuck in a disgustingly manipulative conference exclusively for young girls. I feel little to no respect towards the speakers and was tempted to throw their gift but it was really cute so I decided to keep it. They also negatively throw the word homosexuality. I felt again left out as my cousins and cousin's friend hang out and even make new friends. I thought things would get worse but to my surprise, the evening conference was touching and made me feel good and made me give the camp another chance. I decided to play some volleyball game before this happened:
I was walking with some girls back to our rooms. I was feeling thrilled and hoped to become their friend since they usually hang out with them. Deds was very naive and thought they would be glad to have her as a friend and even play volleyball with her!
Turns out Deds was that annoying little kid who needed to be walked into the bathroom. I was pretty let down by the words
"Dedde, (Not my actual name) you cannot go if you don't have a buddy"
I stayed in my room day 2 night. It was day 3, I tried to focus on the positive and I had fun. I was in two emotionally touching conferences and thought of coming out to my cousins. I was really happy and thrilled to finally take such a big stepped. I thought of my words for the rest of the day and decided to tell them at night would be a good idea. Maybe after the conference, I can tell them. I hope they don't change their opinions about me, after all, I'm still the same person just a little different.
July 6, 2019, it was about 7:30 PM. I had made some prayers and dance to the music. I spoke in tongues and was more than thrilled to hear what would be tonight's message. The pastor walked to the stage and began to confront us in such a passionate way. I thought it was a passionate way, who knew it was just the bait for his plans.
He made a 360 turn into his words. That evening was something I'll never forget.
If you already figure out the camp was homophobic, so did I but I never thought those...people would invite someone like him!
He began to ramp on and talk in such ardor and passion about how the LGTBQ+ community is just some scary cats who are haunted by the homosexual spirit. They are like a virus, hidden in the most unsuspected places. He even conveyed the message that the LGTBQ+ community, my community, someone like me cannot be a Christian. Those who accept the community are wrong.
"Let's put 'em back into the closet," He said.
"They are just a bunch of sinners."
"Look at this girl, she used to be a lesbian but now she is free from the spirit of homosexuality"
"Let's break the spirit of homosexuality and send it back where it belongs"
I was horrified. I felt alone. I was anxious, I thought this wasn't real. I hoped that he would just go back to the subject but...then he asked everyone to stand up and come into the front...
"I want everyone here to be straight!" He declared in a very proud tone like he was freeing all the youths instead of poisoning them with his toxic and promoting hate towards people who simply only seek for acceptance. "Let's break the spirit of homosexuality!"
As he spoke hundreds of teens, even children, walked up to the front like Zombies and made a line ready to pray to eliminate the "spirit" of homosexuality. My family went. I realized that I wasn't ready to come out, I was thankful I said nothing...I'll hate to be dragged into the line and allow them to touch my front and manipulate me into destroying my progress in accepting my sexual orientation.
I stayed in my seat. Two leaders asked why I wasn't going like the others. I wasn't able to talk but I did try to explain how I felt but I was interrupted and sent to pray like a good girl. My anxiety took over my mind and I couldn't think right as I prayed and cried seeking for my lord to protect my community and me and people like the pastor praying in hate. Someone threw one of the Camps shirts in my back and someone came to me and touch my back. I knew exactly what he was about to do, I turned him to him with a face that said:
"Don't even try to pray for me"
I guess he took my message and realized what was I doing.
Maybe I heard wrong or he did say:
"Is not gonna work, cut it out." and left me alone. Crying against that chair.
The pastor was finishing and a leader, who I tried to explain my situation, sat next to me and asked me what the shirt said.
I turned it around. It read:
"I am brave and I will win my battle"
She smiled and told me I was brave. The pastor was finishing and revealed he offered conversion what I believe was conversion therapy. He began to ramble about his beliefs but my focus was on the leader who told me I was brave. She turned and winked at me.
Maybe she said I was brave because I refused to follow the crowd and walk through a path that could destroy my life or maybe she thought I was brave. After all, I decided to face my "battle against my bisexuality". I like to think about the first option as her true intention. It makes me feel better every time this repressed memory comes and haunts me.
I went into my room, talked to my best friend (Who already knew I was bi and supported me) about the situation before crying myself to sleep. Day 4, I refused to talk about what happened in the camp as I finally returned home. I decided to tell my friends in from DA about it and they were quite loving towards me and gave me support.
Now, it would be a year since I went Awaken. A nasty anniversary of an awful event but just like my best friend said...
It's just a bad dream, that's what it is.
A small proof of this story is true:
That pastor words: (The video is quite long but he eventually touches the subject.
Don't hate on this people.