Brandon Wallace sat down at a Starbucks to write a blog post. Seven days later, he finished a 238-page memoir.
Wallace’s memoir, “Straight-Face,” began as a 1,000-word blog post explaining to his high school and middle school students why he had to leave Arkansas, but turned it into a revealing story about how he struggled with accepting his identity as a homosexual Christian.
“It was like I kept this secret inside of me for so long,” he said. “Now I had the opportunity to really tell it all so I just did.”
Wallace grew up and lived in Arkansas for most of his life. He was heavily involved in his church which is why when he realized he was gay, he hid his sexuality.
He came out to friends and family two years before he wrote his memoir.
“When I first came out it was psychologically devastating,” he said. “All of these people I spent years with in the church were just telling me I’m a spawn of Satan and I’m going to Hell and I’m sending people to Hell with me.”
Wallace had to change his phone number, lock his social media accounts and create a new email. The criticisms he received prepared him for writing his story.
He said the memoir allowed him to reflect on his life and what it meant to be a follower of Christ as a homosexual.
“I spent my whole life thinking that there was no overlap between the two,” he said. “But after writing, I realized that I really have been interweaving the two things my whole life without realizing it.”
Wallace hadn’t even intended to publish it as a blog post because it felt so personal, but a friend read it, loved it and shared it. She passed it around, and it went into the hands of a publisher.
Soon enough, 23-year-old Wallace, who’s only writing experience was on his blog, TheGayChristian.com, was offered a book deal with Green Bridge Press.
“The way I wrote is very personal because I wrote it for me and not for anyone else,” he said. “I wrote it very stream-of-thought to show how I was feeling when I was going through all of this stuff so at the end of the book you really get a feel for what it was like psychologically to be inside the mind of someone who’s in the closet.”
Most of his readers, he said, were in their 50s and 60s.
“They had a lot of the similar stories, but in the time that they grew up and they were my age, they weren’t able to express that like we were,” he said. “I think they were excited for the first time that we were able to get that story out there to know people are really understanding.”
He said he hopes everyone struggling to understand homosexuality within their faith will read the book.
“I hope everyone picks up a copy, not just because it is my book,” he said. “It could help someone who struggles with issues of faith and sexuality even if it’s a family member or friend.”
Connie Waters, a visual arts teacher and pastor in Memphis, Tennessee, met Wallace through an online group called Outlaw Preachers, where ministers who had struggled over their faith could talk about their struggles.
“Brandon is just very charismatic,” she said. “Kids and young adults are just really attracted to him because he’s just so positive and interested in their lives.”
Waters said she was happy when she read his book and learned it was going to be published because of the message he would share.
“When I read it I felt that it was so heartfelt,” she said. “I was so proud of him for wanting to share his story so that other people would know they were not alone as he had discovered in his journey.”
Wallace offers words of advice for people currently struggling with their sexuality and faith.
“The first step is to take ownership of [your] faith,” he said. “Until you can really own your faith, you’re going to let people tell you what you should be.”
He also recommends people read the scriptures.
“Understand that God loves [you] for who God created [you] to be because he created you, and that’s a lot of love,” he said.
His book currently is on sale on TheGayChristian.com and Amazon where it has a five-star rating.