Matthew Grech, a former X Factor contestant who sang under the name Jay Omaro, endured a lot of criticism when he stated publicly in 2018 that he was no longer following a same-sex attracted identity and was emphatic that no 'conversion therapy' had influenced his decision.
His story has become the subject of a documentary film called 'Once Gay'. He believes that people have the right to walk away from a homosexual lifestyle, which should be as respected by the wider community as the choice of those entering that lifestyle. This belief has led to him facing criticism from many in the gay community, as well as politicians in his homeland of Malta.
Matthew was brought up Roman Catholic, in a stable family. However, he became addicted to lust as he moved into his teens.
At a boys-only secondary school, Matthew found it hard to fit in as he was skilled in singing and playing the piano and not interested in sports.
"I experienced considerable peer pressure from close friends, when I was 14. I would hang out with girls and date them to try to fit in. I tried hard to be a normal teenage boy, but I caught myself fantasizing about guys. Friends mocked me about being gay and attracted to boys.
"Doubt and insecurity began to define me, to a point where I began to doubt my sexuality. Could this be true? Did I end up sexualizing my unmet need to bond with persons of the same gender? Were there other factors in my upbringing that led me to believe that I was a lesser male?"
Matthew became a practising homosexual and music became a means whereby he could 'dream big and come out of my bleak reality for a while'.
"I developed my talent, and recorded my own music, aged 16. Little did I know that the local radio stations would find my music appealing."
The young singer was nominated at the Malta Music Awards and Bay Music Awards in 2006-2008, as Best Newcomer, Best Solo Artist, and Best Male Artist.
"I hid behind my alter ego, Jay Omaro, my stage name at the time. It felt so good to be appreciated, valued and highly esteemed."
Matthew moved to London when he was 19, to find 'breakthrough' in his musical career. He also became interested in Reiki, the new age practice of laying on of hands for healing. He had ambitions to become a Reiki master and "achieve a tangible sense of spirituality in my life".
A Christian woman, who was a friend of his father's, warned Matthew about the dangers of invoking spiritual powers other than Jesus and explained the good news about the salvation God offers everyone through the death of Jesus on the cross for our sins.
She invited Matthew to a prayer meeting, which he felt obliged to attend.
"As I stepped into the rented school hall where these Christians gathered, I encountered a family of believers that freely worshiped and prayed to a God that was present for them in the room, and a God they knew personally.
"It was authentic - it felt alive. I was drawn to their prayer language and the seamless fruit of their life. I loved their diligence in bringing the Bible with them to church."
Matthew later experienced a supernatural healing from a migraine.
"I was powerfully touched by the Holy Spirit before Communion as I knelt down, and knew that my life was being shaken for the better. I bought my first Bible, and lived with an intense daily longing for more of God and His ways.
"On my personal journey with the Bible, God revealed my own sin, and I felt Godly sorrow for being a sinner. I was taught that if I believed that Jesus is the Son of God, and made Him Lord over my life, I could seal my commitment to follow Him through the rite of baptism.
"I did this, fully surrendering my life to the Lord."
Like many others, Matthew realised that it is not an issue of 'gay or straight', it is an issue of 'is Jesus Lord or not'. We all come to God sinful and He, in His time, will give us the conviction, desire and strength to deal with whatever areas of our lives are not pleasing to Him.
Matthew, now 30, has since seen Jesus healing and delivering "thousands of people" in churches. His desire continues to be to know Jesus more and to share the love of God with others, whatever their background. Single, after leaving a lover when he converted, Matthew hopes to find a wife one day.
He added: "Now I know Jesus is alive, that He loves all sinners, and that He is calling them to repentance [turn away from sin] for the gift of eternal life. That life can start for you today! Make a decision for Jesus, I urge you!"•