I’ve always been the good little boy. Because of my high need to be liked, I’ve always been the one who does the right thing and puts others before himself. Keep that in mind as you read the rest of my story.
I began to notice that I was attracted to guys around the time I was in 7th grade. That was in the late 70’s and no one would ever admit to being gay! Besides, though I was attracted to the guys in my gym class, I still dated girls. I had “crushes” on several girls during junior high and high school and even dated some. But in my mind, I was always thinking about the guys. It was my little secret. I would daydream about the guys in class, look at them in PE, and see if I could catch of glimpse of them naked in the gym showers. At home, they became the subject of my fantasies. While some may have suspected I was gay, I did my best to keep it covered up.
That is, until my first year of college. I began to realize that this is who I was and though I was afraid, I wanted to explore what that meant. At the community college that I went to, they had a meeting of the Gay Students Union that took place right before my evening class. I used to stand outside of the classroom door, trying to listen to what was being said in the GSU meeting. I was too afraid to go in. What would my parents think? What would my friends think? I mean, this wasn’t what I wanted! I didn’t ask to be gay. I wanted to be straight…get married…have kids…all of that! I just didn’t know what to do with the desires that I had. I came so close to going through that door into the GSU meeting…but just never got up the courage to do so.
At the same time, I was becoming interested in God. I wanted all of the things that I was told that God offered…especially knowing that I would be loved by God and by others. So during that first year of college, I gave my heart to Christ. From that day forward, my life went in a different direction. I wanted desperately to please God and all I heard from the church was that being gay was not ok. So I stuffed it. I shoved all of my feelings about being gay down deep into my soul. I still struggled with lust for other guys but believed that if my only acting on it was masturbation and looking at some gay porn, maybe I could become who God wanted me to be and have a life like I wanted…the typical American suburban family.
During college, I felt called to ministry. I deeply desired to help other people and to point them towards God. I believed in God deeply and felt that being involved in ministry as a vocation would be a perfect fit for my personality. Of course, this made things even more difficult with the homosexual desires I had. I began to pray and pray that God would “deliver” me from these desires and that He would make me straight. The most difficult year was the year before I went to seminary. I really believed that I needed to do whatever I could to become straight. I cries out to God regularly…but it seemed that He never answered that prayer. So I entered seminary, clinging to my secret desires in the dark, but playing the role of good seminary student in my outer world.
During my first year of seminary, the collision of my desires and my faith grew extremely intense. I was driving myself crazy in the midst of the tension. I finally began to open up to a few close friends about what I was struggling with and they were supportive of me…as long as I would continue to fight again my desires and do right by God. One friend suggested I go to counseling and I realized that it would probably be a good thing to do. So I began the counseling process.
During that time, I first heard about Exodus International, the Christian ministry that “helps” people of faith to conquer their homosexual desires and live a “straight” existence as best as they can, relying on God for healing. I finally thought I had found the answer that I had been looking for! So I switched counselors and began to meet for psychotherapy with Joe Dallas, who, at one time, was President of Exodus and is considered one of the “experts” of reparative therapy. Meeting with Joe Dallas seemed to answer every question I had about my “struggle with same-sex attraction”. I believed my struggle was rooted in a poor relationship with my dad when I was growing up and my feelings of insecurity about my masculinity. I applied everything that Joe taught me and began to feel better about following Christ and continuing to fight against my sexual desires. I became the poster-child for what the whole “ex-gay movement” is all about. I truly believed that this “struggle” was the cross that I had to bear in life.
And that, my friends, led me to believe that I could actually attain one day what I had always wanted: to be a husband and dad. More on that in the next post!