My Gay Church Days

Memoir of a closeted evangelical pastor who eventually had enough

Non-Fiction - LGBTQ
318 Pages
Reviewed on 01/04/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

My Gay Church Days is a work of non-fiction in the LGBTQ+ and memoir genres. It is aimed at mature readers owing to the use of explicit language throughout and was penned by author George Azar. The book follows the author’s life as he gets involved in Evangelical Christianity as an escape from the bullying he suffered at school. But his faith and the community he had joined forced him to repress an important aspect of his personality for fear of being banished from the one place he felt accepted. As George finds the strength to break away from his oppressors, a new and confusing frontier awaits.

This book is an important read not just for LGBTQ+ individuals growing up within the church community, but as a source of introspection for members of that community at large. It’s an act of bravery to share such a painful story, in particular when author George Azar shows such willingness to share deep and damaging parts of their story. It is my sincere hope that as progress continues to be made in acceptance and equality for the LGBTQ+ community that this book helps those in extreme Christian groups to understand the damage they do and to help LGBTQ+ people recognize that their worth and their identity are not to be defined by the people who don’t have their best interests at heart. A powerful read with lessons for us all, My Gay Church Days has the potential to grow an understanding of the appalling way evangelical Christians have treated their LGBTQ+ members. I recommend it to any readers, and I hope that when you read it that it helps you grow and understand your world a little better.

Viga Boland

It’s an interesting, no, make that exciting, experience to select a memoir because you’re curious about a life unlike your own, only to find out just how much you or someone in your family has in common with the author. It’s also one of the reasons I believe in the often under-rated value of memoirs: we are all much more alike than we think! At its most basic level, George Azar’s My Gay Church Days is about how agonizing it can feel to be attracted to the same sex and how terrified one can be of acknowledging and acting on those feelings. George spent the bulk of his younger adult years so ashamed of his secret desires that he went above and beyond to fight them and hide the truth from both himself and all others. Of course, his shame was fed by society’s disdain, especially from a religious standpoint, for such a predilection. To compensate, to boost his low self-esteem, George became what I will call a “Bible guru”, driving people nuts with his religious proselytizing, but along the way, he began to see the holes in the conflicting, unsubstantiated beliefs so many Christians hold dear.

Now, that said, there will be many Bible followers who will take offense at Azar’s pondering and conclusions about the “truths” cited in that most popular guide for how to live our lives. But other readers, like me, will applaud his courage in questioning what is drummed into children’s minds from birth onward. These are beliefs that so many of us question once we age and start thinking outside the box. But Azar’s courage in sharing his thoughts on organized religion wasn’t what hit me hardest about this excellent memoir. It was what he stated here: “I feared getting to know who I was because, for a long time, I was running away from him. Suppressing him. Holding him back. Being myself scared me.”

Touche! How many of us feel that way? How many of us go through life being what our friends, teachers, families, spouses, and employers expect us to be…living up to their ideals and concepts of what makes us good or bad or even worthwhile? Dare I suggest too many of us live out our lives this way? Read George Azar’s memoir. It’s well-written, thoughtful, and peppered with little asides that make us smile. The best books are those that inform and enlighten while they entertain us. My Gay Church Days ticks those three boxes.

Jose Cornelio

My Gay Church Days: Memoir of a Closeted Evangelical Pastor Who Eventually Had Enough by George Azar is an inspiring story of a pastor on his way to becoming a Senior pastor and owner of his own church but who is betrayed by the Bayside Church leaders and eventually renounces his faith. George has experienced a lot of pain growing up, bullied in school, and ashamed of his homosexual urges, which he believed were a grave sin. But discovering evangelical Christianity gives him an opportunity to mask his homosexual inclinations. He becomes passionate about his faith, surrendering himself to Christ and growing up to become an outreach pastor. Riddled by the fear of coming out and what others might think of him, George spends years suffering and being controlled and manipulated. This book narrates his story and how he came to a point where he decided to let go of the shackles and pursue what matters most to him.

My Gay Church Days is boldly told and I loved George Azar’s brutal honesty that shines through the book. At the heart of this book is the message that following Christ does not imply conformity and does not necessarily mean denying who we really are. The author writes from a place where his human vulnerability intersects with the authenticity of his voice, allowing readers to step into a world where people suffer rejection for who they are and, at times, in the name of religion. The book is filled with insightful thoughts, self-analysis, and questions that compel readers to rethink the way they relate to Jesus and to others. The narrative voice is compassionate and engaging, the prose beautiful, and the entire book is filled with wisdom and manifold lessons on what it really means to follow Christ. My Gay Church Days is both an eye-opening spiritual odyssey and one man’s profession of faith in his humanity. It is thought-provoking and inspiring.

Adam V.

I had the distinct pleasure of reading this book. George's account of his experience in Evangelical Christianity highlighted the harmful effects of the doctrine of salvation. Going through his story and relating to him on so many levels brought great healing for my own journey. A MUST-READ!