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By George Azar

IR Rating:
George Azar’s MY GAY CHURCH DAYS is a touching autobiography that will resonate among all those who denied themselves for a cause or a group only to realize it wasn’t worth it.
IR Approved
For years, George Azar was a pastor in an evangelical church, spreading the doctrine of bigotry and callousness even as he struggled with his homosexuality. Only after he confronted his self-loathing did he finally find the strength to stand up to the hypocrisy of his church.

As a gay teenager, George Azar experienced a troubled childhood. His schoolmates bullied him, and he was anxious about coming out as gay to his conservative parents. When he met kids from the local church group, he felt welcomed for the first time in his life. There was just one catch: evangelical church preached homosexuality was a sin and a disease. Nevertheless, Azar joined them, urged by a desperate need to fit in. Eventually, he even became a pastor. The price he paid was denying an essential part of himself.

Despite its titillating title, George Azar’s MY GAY CHURCH DAYS is first and foremost a heart-felt autobiography of a man mature enough to acknowledge his mistakes. It is sad to read how much self-loathing shaped his life. After Azar left his home for college, he seemingly had no reason to continue hiding his sexual preferences anymore. However, having already internalized his self-hate, he pursued the company of people despising those like him. There is a telling anecdote about socializing with a group of farmhands in the aftermath of 9/11 who “jokingly” call him all kinds of racial slurs because he is of Middle Eastern descent. It is even more devastating to read how Azar turned his self-loathing against others. His clinging to bigoted faith teachings led him to cut ties with friends and estrange his siblings. While the author’s behavior came from self-loathing instead of selfishness, it was nevertheless callous. To his credit, he now openly admits and regrets this.

While Azar’s story is repetitive in certain parts, it is merely because that’s how real life works. People frequently need to revisit the same lessons until they finally embrace them. In the end, unlike with the traditional stories of evangelical salvation, the author’s liberation arrives not from accepting Jesus, but by denouncing the poisonous teachings of the church. His book can and will be read as a criticism of evangelical Christianity. While that is a valid reading of the book, the author’s autobiography works equally well – if not better – as a testimony of a person struggling with self-loathing and a need to fit in. The battle for one’s identity may be difficult, but it is a worthy one.

George Azar’s MY GAY CHURCH DAYS is a touching autobiography that will resonate among all those who denied themselves for a cause or a group only to realize it wasn’t worth it.

~Danijel Štriga for IndieReader

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