‘I grew up in a homophobic cult and prayed to God to make me straight’

Growing up in an “extremely homophobic cult”, Matthew was taught that gay people were “to be feared”. To add to the problems, he was carrying a deep secret.

“When I was a kid, my family entered a cult,” he said in a video on TikTok.

“We were isolated from the world, and gay people were criminals to be feared,” he added, noting that the cult was “very strict” – and that included rules on dating.

“You didn’t date, you courted people with the permission of both fathers. You didn’t watch television, you didn’t listen to pop music. I basically grew up under a rock,” he insisted.

Being in the cult profoundly affected Matthew’s childhood. The messages surrounding him were that LGBTQ+ people were an “abomination” so he struggled with the realisation that he was in fact gay.

“For the longest time, I prayed: ‘God, please make me straight’,” he said.

It was a “lot of trauma to go through”, but, a decade later, Matthew found the courage to escape and “begin a new life”.

He came out as gay and opened himself up to the possibility of love. Then, he found his match with Paul, who has been his partner for five years.

As soon as they started chatting online, Paul informed Matthew that, when he was 16, doctors had told him that he was going blind, and he’d accepted his declining sight. He has just 15 per cent of his vision remaining today.

Matthew was “totally receptive” towards the information and was curious about the condition, Paul recalled.

“I Googled it immediately so that I could chat with this really hot cutie with some knowledge,” Matthew said, prompting laughter from Paul.

Paul thought Matthew’s interest was “really special” because he’d dated men who “probably ended [the] relationship” because they were “unable to handle” the possible “responsibility that comes with being an inter-abled couple”.

That’s something Matthew has handled well, Paul added, but he still worried about what a total loss of his sight could mean not just for him, but also for their future together.

“One of the scariest parts about losing my vision is, what will my life be like without sight? Matthew and I want to have kids, and I want to be able to see them grow up.”

After Paul shared his fears with his partner, Matthew walked up to him, took his hand and said: “You don’t have to worry about any of that because you have me and I love you.”

Paul says that represented the first time he “ever said that… [and] of course, I just melted”.

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