Posts Tagged ‘ex-gay’

Well, it’s time to start going “public” a bit more.  I’ve started a YouTube channel because I really feel a calling to get my story out and to speak to the damage that ex-gay ministries cause.  Please subscribe to my YouTube channel…more great things to come!

Wow.  Just wow.  Don’t know what else to say.  I can hardly bear it.

“Reparative Therapy” is the name for the type of counseling that claims to help people to “change” their sexual orientation.  Over the years there has been a lot of controversy surrounding this type of therapy.  The claims have “changed” (pun intended) over the years so that now reparative therapists only say that that “change” is a possibility…not an eventuality.  Regardless, the whole point of the therapy is to help a person “overcome” being gay so that they can live a straight life.

I spent two years in reparative therapy back in the early 90’s.  By the end of the two years, I thought that I had come to a place where I knew enough that I was able to “control” my sexual urges and I believed I could live a fairly normal straight existence.  Ultimately, what I learned was to deny my orientation and to suppress those feelings and desires.  I was taught to fulfill my need for men through close, non-sexual friendships with other men.  And I learned that if I stayed close to God and give my desires for men over to Him, then over time, there would be more and more healing in my life.

Guess what?  Nearly 20 years have passed and there has been no change in my desires.  I have experienced some tremendous fulfillment in close friendships with other men…and I have clung to God during those years.  But at the core of my being, nothing has changed.  All I have done is learned to “play straight”.  I’ve played the role semi-well.  After all, I AM married with children!  But to this day, I have zero attraction to women.  And I find that all of my energy goes into connecting with men.  Deep down, I know that change has been totally elusive.

You know what else?  I’ve never met another person for whom reparative therapy has worked.  Everyone I know (and I know MANY) who has been through such programs, has simply learned to “control” their desires.  They may live straight lives, but at their core, their desire to be with men has not gone away.  They have learned to suppress it but in their minds and hearts, they know that the desires will not go away.

So I’ve come to a conclusion…and it is based on my experience and the experience of many others:  REPARATIVE THERAPY DOESN’T WORK!  I desperately wanted to believe that it would work.  But it didn’t.  There may be a few out there for whom it has worked and I would guess that they were not as exclusively homosexual as those for whom it hasn’t worked.  But on the whole, I don’t believe it works.

In good conscience, I can no longer recommend it to people.  Ultimately, I know that I will need to withdraw from some of my professional connections to Exodus International and other gay-to-straight groups.  In time, that will come.  At the very least, I personally feel released from “trying to change”.

Praise God!

That’s right…going to counseling.  That is what changed everything!

There has been too much dissonance in my life and I decided that it was time to get some help.  I began to meet with a Christian counselor and thought that I should work on my “struggles” with same-sex attraction again.  Obviously, what I had learned in my first round of counseling didn’t completely “take” so I figured I needed a refresher course on overcoming homosexuality.  And I knew that I needed help in working through all of this with my wife.  Little did I know that my counselor saw things a bit differently than what I had learned before.

I began to explain to my counselor that I suffered from “Same-Sex Attraction” (a horrible psychological disorder) and that it was affecting my marriage.  I told the counselor that my wife felt that I never seemed to give her what she really wanted from me, namely, passion.  My wife wants a husband that loves her deeply, is attracted to her, and is passionate about her.

I will never forget my counselor’s response.  She said, “What if you can’t give that to your wife?”  “Can’t???  What do you mean, ‘can’t’?”  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  My CHRISTIAN counselor…the one who refers to BIBLICAL passages in our CHRISTIAN counseling sessions…was the one who began to critique the very assumptions that I had made about homosexuality.  I figured I could “get over” this issue.  I figured I could learn to respond appropriately to my wife.  I thought I just needed to tweak my thinking a bit and learn to be a better husband.  But “CAN’T”???

The counselor went on:  “What if you can’t respond the way your wife wants you to because your brain is wired differently.  If you are gay, you surely can’t respond to your wife like a straight husband would.”  Those were fighting words to me.  “But I’m not gay!  I’m just a Christian man who suffers from same-sex attraction!”  My counselor chuckled.  “So for all these years you have believed the Christian rhetoric?  Interesting!”

My brain began to reel.  Christian rhetoric?  My Christian counselor is calling everything that I had been taught about the right way to understand homosexuality “rhetoric”???  I literally didn’t know how to process that.

And so began three months of hard work.  I would come in to each session with my ammunition (provided by Exodus International and the Christian Church) and try to blast away what my counselor was telling me.  We argued theology.  We argued psychology.  And time and time again, my counselor pointed out things in my life that pointed directly to the fact that I WAS GAY.  Literally, it got to the point where I had nothing else to say.  My counselor was able to respond to every excuse and argument I could come up with.  There was no other answer.  I had to accept it.

I am a pastor.
I am a husband.
I am a father.

And I am gay.

I don’t want to drag my past story out much because I want this blog to focus more on where I am at now.  So I am going to try to wrap up “my past” in this post.

I finished my ex-gay therapy in 1994, two years into my marriage.  It was right about the time that I graduated from seminary and was looking for my first assignment as a pastor.  I was “on fire for God”, was ready for my life of ministry, and felt like I had made tons of progress as an “ex-gay”.  I had learned what the “triggers” were that increased my same-sex desires and had processed through how to keep them under control in my life.  While I still found men attractive, I had convinced myself that if I just kept up with doing the things I had been taught in counseling (like having close, non-sexual friendships with men), then maybe one day, I would come to true emotional health and outgrow my desires for men.

But then I became a pastor…and that just complicated everything.  There was this subtle pressure that as a pastor, I had to act like I had it all together.  And since I was newly in ministry, I felt the need to prove myself to those around me.  What this did was begin a process of me living an external life that was different from my internal life.  On the exterior, I was a good pastor who excelled in spirituality and ministry.  On the inside, I was lusting after men and wishing I could be with them.  Men that I interacted with whom I found attractive probably never knew that I was looking at them in the way that I was!

When the internet was invented and proliferated across the world, that’s when things really became tough.  I had been a pastor for several years when I learned that there was pornography…GAY PORNOGRAPHY…available on this new thing called the internet.  Honestly, I was like a kid in the candy store!  I quickly became addicted to internet pornography and masturbation…enjoying the man-candy that was on my computer screen.  I would sit in the church office, working on sermons, and then feeling pulled to porn.  Porn would always win and I wasted hours upon hours gazing at what I couldn’t have.  I realize now that gay porn was the only outlet that I had for my true sexuality so it became my secret fix.  So that was me for many years…Christian pastor on the outside and wannabe gay slut on the inside.  Sheesh!

And what of my marriage?  Well, I did what normal people do!  I lived a typical suburban life, fought with my wife, had sex with my wife (always dreaming about men while I was doing it), had children, and tried to keep my life afloat.  My wife and I had good days and bad days…but unfortunately, more bad days than I care to admit.  But I keep on cruising.  After all, I was a pastor, and God would surely take care of it all!  During this time, I came to the realization that God would probably never change my sexual desires so I decided that it was just the “cross” I would have to bear.  I figured I would “struggle” with “same-sex attraction” the rest of my life…but at least, I thought, I would honor God and do right by my family.

The unfortunate thing about all of this is that I didn’t realize that the reasons my wife and I were struggling so much was related to my sexuality.  I blamed it on her.  SHE had too many expectations of our marriage.  SHE was controlling.  SHE needed counseling.  SHE…blah, blah, blah.  My “religion” had blinded me to the fact that the problems we were having really had to do with how I felt about men…and how little I felt about women.

And this struggle of having an unsatisfactory marriage and justifying it as “doing the right thing” went on and on for years.  Until some things changed just a few months ago…

At the same time that I began counseling with Joe Dallas, I met the “woman of my dreams”.  She seemed to be very “into” me and since I was on my quest to become a husband, father, and good pastor, it became easy to date someone who was interested in me.  I loved the attention that I got from her and she seemed to be exactly the type of woman I was looking for.  I remember coming home from my second date with her and saying to my roommate:  “I’m going to marry that girl.  I know it already.  Just you wait and see.”  We had our first date at the end of April and we went out several times in May and the beginning of June.  She went home for two months in the summer before coming back.  We then dated for 2.5 more months before I proposed.  I had won this girl’s heart by being a nice, sensitive guy who had a vision to be a pastor.  We had a 7-month engagement and then tied the knot.  So in the span of 15 months, we met, dated, had two months apart, date some more, got engaged, prepared for a wedding, and then got married.  I was happy and believed I was on my way to conquering “the sin of homosexuality” that I had struggled with for so long.

One thing you need to know is that before we got engaged, I told my wife about my “struggle with homosexuality”.  I knew that I couldn’t get married with that as a secret.  I told her that I was in counseling dealing with that issue and told her that I had never gotten involved physically with a guy (which at that time was true).  Her brother was gay, which gave her an understanding of the issue.  For the sake of love, I guess, she said that it didn’t matter and she loved me anyway.

I should have known something was wrong based on a few significant things that happened on our honeymoon.  After arriving at our honeymoon destination, we enjoyed our first evening in tropical paradise and a great night of sex.  The next morning, I woke up first and turned to see my naked bride in bed next to me.  At that moment, I had a flash of panic.  I still remember the thought that went through my mind:  “Oh my God, what have I done?!?!”  I talked myself back down by reminding myself that this was what I always wanted and I was sure that other guys felt that way after taking the leap into marriage.  But then the second thing happened.  I was in the swimming pool the next day and a GORGEOUS guy who totally fit the mold of what I like physically in a man was in the pool as well.  I couldn’t take my eyes off him.  I stood in the pool, struggling with my thoughts, thinking, “I’m on my honeymoon with a great woman but I am totally hot for the guy across the pool!”  My wife came up, noticed my thoughts were elsewhere, and asked me what was the matter.  I decided to ‘fess up and told her there was a guy around who I was attracted to.  She scanned the pool area and immediately figured out who it was.  “It’s him, isn’t it?”  “Yes,” I admitted.  My wife was hurt.  I felt shame.  And I decided that maybe it wasn’t good to talk about my attractions with my wife.

Little did I know that this was only the beginning of the inner-conflict that would face me in my marriage!

How Did I Get Here? (Part 1)

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

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!