Egged on by friends in middle school, Samuel Perez felt same-sex attraction but he had been raised in a strict Christian household.
“Oh my gosh! I don’t want to go to hell!” he thought, after he “came out” to his mom, and she warned him. “I didn’t know what I was feeling, I didn’t know how to control it. I didn’t want to like men, I just did.”
It all started because the Cuban youngster didn’t fit in with boys. His friends were girls. When he finally got a masculine friend, he got excited and confused and started to think it was a romantic thing. Lesbian friends reinforced the confusion, urging him to plant his flag of gay identity, he says on his YouTube channel.
“Am I gay?” he asked. “Do I like this boy? Is this who I really am?”
A war waged for his sexual identification, with his parents fighting for God’s way, and his friends pushing for the world’s. When he finally told his mom he didn’t want to “suppress” his same-sex attraction, she sent him to an ex-gay camp.
“This is such BS,” he thought at the camp. “These people are trying to not come to terms with themselves.”
The camp had no effect.
“The world was telling me to love myself, so i accepted I was gay and was always going to like men,” he says.
In high school, he was homeschooled. That only made things worse because he was cut off from all his friends. Lonely, he became addicted to his computer and cried every night.
College was going to be his escape. He found his passion in acting and the arts and rekindled his love for music.
“I remember having this app where you could find men in your area and meet up with them,” he says. “I was addicted to the app. I was desperate for someone to love me”
Samuel met up with a guy and made him promise him that he wouldn’t leave if he gave himself to him. The man promised but left him the next day.
At this time, Samuel got really sick and was hospitalized and heartbroken. His depression worsened till he dropped out of acting school.
“For the first time I felt completely lost,” he says. “I had no aspirations, no relationships. I didn’t even know if I liked singing and acting anymore.”
Samuel found a new love, working out at the gym, and became a personal trainer.
Then he decided to finally move out of his parents’ place. “Mom and Dad, I’m moving to New York! ,” he told them one day. “So I moved to New York with their help, like the gracious loving parents they are, even though they knew it wasn’t the best thing for me. They knew I had to make it on my own.”
Samuel had no money and no friends, but he worked as a personal trainer. He started to train a drag queen, who encouraged him to gogo dance and entertain people.
During the day, he trained at the gym. At night he booked appointments left and right.
“I was offered an event for an all nude party. They were like ‘Oh you’re gonna make so much money and I didn’t want to but at the same time I needed the money and I was open to a new experience.”
The party was an unmitigated orgy. The next day, Samuel felt so broken. He was crying on his bike to work the next day.
He booked as an entertainer on a cruise ship. It was supposed to be fun, but he was hurting more than ever on the inside.
“This was very serious I was crying every night and contemplating suicide,” he remembers. “I was extremely depressed I didn’t know who I was and didn’t know what the meaning of my life was,
“Throughout all of this my relationship with God was just lingering, like I know there’s a God but I can’t fight these temptations.”
He went from job to job, state to state and relationship to relationship. He was exhausted.
One day he asked God for a sign that He was real. He turned on the Christian radio and the next morning Samuel felt a peace surrounding him.
“I remember dropping to my knees and praying to God,” he recalls. “I said from this moment on I will dedicate my life to You and everything I do will be for You.”
He surrendered his life to Jesus Christ and was born again.
He no longer cared about being famous or well-known. He began to go to church regularly and dove deep into Christianity. Now God uses his talent for singing to honor Him.
“When people ask if I’m gay, I say, ‘I still have same-sex attraction, but I don’t let that define me. I’m a child of God,’” he affirms. “God has revealed so much to me in these passing months, and He has showed me who I really am.”
Roxy Photenhauer studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.