|TRIGGER ALERT: Caution -- I am at the point where I want to express some slightly graphic experiences. This may cause some TRIGGERS to go off in some of you reading this. So use your own judgment in reading it.
I was born on the US West Coast. I had 2 older sisters, but we were all within 4 years of each other. My Dad worked days, my mother worked evenings. I rememeber my dad being distant, almost apatheic while "watching" us. If we were hurt, he would tell us to "shake it off" -- that kind of thing. My mother, though often kind & motherly, was often very critical. They divorced when I was about 8. We all stayed with mom. Apparently Dad was having an affair with his good friend's wife (The friend & wife had a daughter my age). He eventually married this woman. She never liked us (the proverbial evil step-mother incarnate!). She made sure that he only saw us 2x per year. So he was no longer a "factor" in our lives -- except for the pain and emptiness that he left in his wake. All three of us longed for that father figure and that emptiness would affect us the rest of our lives.
My mother did her best to raise us as a single mom. We were on welfare for a time, then she got a job to support us. We even lived with her mother for a short time. I remember that child support was always an issue. Though my father had a very nice income, he would fight each payment "tooth and nail" especially any additional expenses, like dental work, doctor bills, etc. As a result, we were always struggling with money.
While finishing grade school, my mom started dating a man who would become our stepfather. He was several years younger than her and a Vietnam vet. He also hated kids, especially teenagers (and he now had 2 teen girls and a pre-teen boy). Before the marriage he seemed kind, and we were all hopeful that he would become that father we had hoped for all those years. When they got married, my eldest sister was not able to attend as she was visiting our aunt in another state for the summer! (Actually I found out many years later, she was pregnant and was in a home for unwed moms until the baby was born!! Obviously a result of looking for that father-love in the wrong places! The baby was given up for adoption.) My middle sister was more of a "tom-boy" so she and our step-dad got along pretty well since they had some mutual interest. I was just the opposite. I was academic and sensitive. I had hoped he would "take me uunder his wing" and show me all the sports, etc. that I had never been exposed to, but mostly I felt rejection from him.
Around this time, I entered Junior High. With puberty hitting and all those hormones and confused feelings, this was when I first felt SSA. A tall, athletic boy was leaning over my desk in math class to get help with a problem (I loved math) a "voice" inside of me said "KISS HIM!" Of course, I didn't but was shocked to feel those things. I never acted on those urges, but always felt them. I had girlfriends in school (that was the thing to do) but never went further than hand holding or a peck on the cheek, even though my friends had already gone into "heavy petting". I just didn't feel comfortable going that far. I assumed it was beecause of this "deep sense of morals" I had inside but did not realize until later that this was also probably due (at least in part) to the SSA. I also remember having fantasies about S&M and bondage usually with other boys and especially with those I didn't like, such as the bullies who would tease me. It was usually some type of naked torture towards them. Looking back, this seemed very odd, since I was never exposed to that type of pornography or similar types of images. I always thought I just had a "sick" mind.
I did alright in school, with an A/B average. I had a few friends, but mostly was labeled in the "Nerd" or "Geek" class. I did meet one guy who was a year older than me in school, and we became good friends. We rode the same bus to school so we saw each other every day. He, too, lost his dad from divorce and never saw much of him. He was funny and could make me laugh.
I haven't mentioned much about my middle sister, except that she was a tom-boy (and got along pretty well with our step-dad, since they shared several interests). We were very close in age and have always struggled with sibling rivalry. She would always tease and taunt me, calling me "fat & ugly" She would hit me and practice her Wrestling moves on me (her favorite show on TV!). Since she was a "girl" and I was a "boy," I was not allowed to hit back!! She was also great at sports, especially softball.
I was horrible at sports. What made matters worse is that my mother insisted I not get involved in sports or I might break my glasses and she does not have the money to get them replaced. (She was good at imposing guilt on us kids!) My step-dad was not much help, He took me fishing once. I caught one fish but had to throw it back -- I think it wasn't a kind worth eating. He did buy me a pole and gear which I thought was cool, but he acted like it was a burden to take me with him. That was it for the male bonding thing!! Though he was not physically abusive, he was verbally/emotionally abusive. He was such a perfectionist that if we made a snack after school, if there were even a few bread crumbs on the counter, he would SLAM his fist on the counter and demand that we clean it up!! I always dreaded waiting for him to come home. He usually came home before my mom. I always feared the sound of his truck driving up to the house, and even more -- the car door slamming!! I still, even today, jump at the sound of a car door slam!
He was even worse to my oldest sister (the one who had gotten pregnant). When she came back "from our aunt's house" (having the baby), he was particularly nasty to her. Years later, I found out he had told my mom that he did not want that "slut" to live under HIS roof! She eventually left and lived with my grandma for a few years. She moved back for her last 2 years of high school, then moved out on her own as soon as she graduated, eventually leaving town for college.
My own high school experience was not much different than junior high. I was still a "Nerd/Geek" but got involved in drama. My "bus" friend was already involved in drama. I got the "acting bug" after seeing
him in a play. I enjoyed being creative -- working on the sets, picking out costumes, helping with the lighting board, applying the make-up to match my character. It was great fun and kept me out of the house -- away from my step-dad!
Living in the all-white (some Hispanic) suburbs in the early 80's, there was never any "openly gay" people anywhere, especially not at school. It *was* interesting, however, that my step-dad had an openly gay brother who lived in the city. My step-dad would be nice in front of him, but would always be mean and belittle him and his "roommate" behind their back. I can't help but wonder what kind of abusive upbringing they had to cause such polar opposite personalities, though both extremely skewed! I also worked part-time at a restaurant where 2 of the managers were gay. Neither talked about it much, but everyone "knew". That was the limit to my "exposure" to the gay lifestyle up until that time.
Meanwhile, my middle sister continued to taunt me. Once I finally "snapped" and retaliated!! After a particularly nasty name-calling and hitting session, I grabbed her and pinned her on the kitchen floor, literally beating her head with my fist. My other sister had to peel me off of her. Once I came to my senses, I couldn't believe the anger and power that I had bottled up inside of me. It was rather frightening. Needless to say, my sister toned down the nastiness after that!!
My "bus" friend convinced me to go with him to a church youth group at a local baptist church. My paternal grandparents had taken us to their church several times when we were kids, but that was it. My own parents could have cared less. Their church was VERY legalistic and all of their kids (including my father) rebelled against having any religion in their life. So I had virtually no church upbringing except for that. Well, I went several times to the youth group, and enjoyed it. They had a rock band and played all kinds of games with the kids. I really felt a part of it and there were lots of young men who helped to lead the group. They really gave me someone to look up to. About every 6 weeks, they would have an altar call. (the preceding weeks would lead up to this) Every time they did, I would pray to God and tell him that I just wasn't ready.
I still had some girlfriends in high school. I dated one girl who was a few years older than me and she wanted things to go very physical, but I just wasn't ready. It only went to heavy kissing, but that was all. I just was not ready for anything more.
I continued to go to the youth group through my junior year. I still kept telling God I was not ready. They offered a week-long retreat of camping and rafting. I was able to get the money to go. I would be away from home and with people I liked!! Half-way through the retreat, We had a guest speaker who talked about the actual suffering Jesus went through on the cross (this was more than 20 years before the Passion movie!!). I always thought that dying on the cross was mostly symbolic, but since He was god, that it really didn't hurt (that's teen logic for you!). I had no idea how much suffering that Jesus went through -- and that he did it all for ME!! The tears just flowed down from my eyes. He gave and altar call and I went down!! I was finally ready -- I asked Jesus into my heart.
Several weeks after I was back home, I found out that my mother was divorcing my stepfather. My mom & I ended up moving only a few blocks away so I could stay at my high school for my senior year. By this time, both my sisters had moved out. I had a new perspective on things having Jesus in my heart, but what I needed most was discipleship. I really did not have anyone to look up to. I had a steady girlfriend (also from the youth group) she was good for support and again, we went as far as heavy kissing. My "bus" friend, by this time was also saved, but had problems of his own. Apparently he had gotten a mutual friend pregnant and was smoking pot. Apparently he was facing his own demons!!
After graduation, my mother and I moved back to the city. I had already broken up with my girlfriend, was away from all my other friends, and was too old for the youth group. However, I got a job for the summer in a restaurant to save money for college in the fall.
I ended up going to the same college that my older sister had been going to. She was already a senior by the time I entered as a freshman. We had always been close, but it was extra special having her nearby.
I tried to find a church to attend. I went to the baptist church near campus that was the same baptist denomination as my youth group church. Unfortunately, it was completely different. At the time, they were between pastors, and had the elderly elders taking turns giving the sermons. I went as often as I could -- suffering through the terribly dry sermons. Not a friendly face in the crowd! After going pretty regularly for several months, one of the other elders asked if this was my "first time"?? I got frustrated and vowed never to return.
My dorm life was not any better. We had apartment-style dorms so I had 2 roommates. Somehow I ended up rooming with 2 much older freshmen -- both in their mid-20s. They had no patience for my innocence. One was a pot-head and the other was an artist -- drawing sketches of nude women in pornographic positions all over the room! Why did I always have such a crappy "home" life -- even away from home!!
I signed up for a campus bible study. It was student-lead and affiliated with one of the campus ministries. It was pretty good, but I ended up with more questions than answers. The girl who led it was pretty inexperienced and did not have many answers. So I was left with no chruch life, no home life. I ended up getting a girlfriend who, again, wanted a much more physical relationship than I was ready for. She was not very strong in her faith either (Epsicopalian). We went from heavy kissing to heavy petting, but I refused to let it go farther -- though she made it quite clear that she wanted much more of a physical relationship than I was ready for. She was not very strong in her faith either (Epsicopalian). We went from heavy kissing to heavy petting, but I refused to let it go farther -- though she made it quite clear that she wanted more!!
I ended up going to parties and DRINKING!! I never drank before college, just a few sips of beer. Now I drank to get drunk. Once I got so "wasted" I twisted my ankle falling down stairs and didn't even realize it until morning, when it was all swollen up!!
I eventually was able to get a different roommate. He was effeminate, though would not admit to being gay. I was intrigued and disgusted by him at the same time. His being there forced me to look at my own issues: Was I gay??
Around this time I started attending a Methodist church. I had some friends who attended there, and though the sermons were somewhat dry, they had a nice choir that I was able to join. I also had started attending the large group meetings for the campus ministry I spoke of earler. This was much more to my liking! I was actually getting spiritually fed!!
My Junior year I became even more involved in the ministry. I helped with bible studies and helped organize the large group meetings. By this time, I had my own apartment off campus. The ministry was planning on going to a missions conference in the mid-west. We raised money in different ways for tickets and airfare. I mentioned this to my pastor, who seemed very friendly and approachable. He said he would like to discuss it more. He suggested coming over to my place. I was thrilled to have him over! He was someone I thought I could look up to. Even though I was not best housekeeper in the world, he was very gracious. He made me feel at ease. We spoke about the conference, and then he offered to give me a shoulder massage. I thought that was strange, but I didn't mind it. He slowly worked his way down, eventually touching my genitals. I then realized what he was really there for and asked him to leave. I was in shock. Was I gay? Did he see something in me that made him think that is what I wanted? Was that something I wanted? I sobbed for hours. I felt dirty. I took a bath and scrubbed for hours, but still felt dirty. I told no one.
I was able to raise enough money for the mission conference and while there, felt God's call to some kind of full time mission work. Once I returned, I knew I needed another church. I started going to the Four Square (Charismatic) Church that my Campus ministry leader attended. This church was very alive. Worship was full and deep. I truly felt God's presence. I had a good friend (female) in the campus ministry who also attended the church. She could sense something was wrong and questioned why I left my other church so abruptly. I eventually told her everything. It was a relief to tell another person. She also told me that he should be confronted. He may be doing the same thing to other youg men in his church. I had never thought of that. I talked to my new pastor about it. He was hesitant since they were separate denominations. He felt it might be more apporopriate for my campus ministry leader and I to confront him. This was also a little sticky because my leader's wife had grown up in that church and her parents still attended! We agreed to confront him, which we did. He was very red-faced and denied the meeting ever took place. We did not push the matter any further.
I went through a little counseling with this new pastor, assuring me that I wasn't "gay" even though I had feelings and had now been "molested". I really grew spiritually at this new church and through my involvement with the campus ministry. Eventually our pastor left to plant a new church in another state and a new pastor was brought in. Soon after that I had heard that one of the teens in my church had a friend who was going to the Methodist church. The pastor there (the same one) was counseling him that it was perfectly alright for him to have sex with his girlfriend, that the Bible didn't really address today's current culture!! I knew what was happening! He was trying to "seduce" this boy with lies in order to gain his trust. I knew he had to be stopped before he abused anyone else. I took the information to the new pastor. He was fearless!! He called his superior in our denomination for advice, and recommended that we contact the Methodist bishop in the region to confront this pastor. A meeting was set up. My former pastor had brought his wife along for the meeting (perhaps thinking I would be less open if she were present). It did not deter me. I shared everything. He admitted to almost everything excusing it as "therapeutic massage" that he had taken classes in. He even admitted to going below the belt-line but not to actually touching the genitals. The bishop was shocked that he had even admitted to that!! He reprimanded the minister and said it even what he *did* admit to was highly inappropriate. Unfortunately, the only formal "reprimand" he would receive would be to go through counseling (he was retiring in a few years) and to not be involved in any "youth" work. Despite the final "verdict", I felt vindicated and empowered.
I eventually started dating a strong Christian girl from my campus ministry. I was able to share my entire story with her. She understood and had her own story. She was a single mom of a 3-year-old son and got saved while she was pregnant. We had a very strong Christ-centered relationship. We were careful not to get too heavy into the physical side of the relationship since that was an issue for both of us.
My sisters had married by this time and my mother had re-married. My eldest sister, unfortunately, had married a man who was extremely physically abusive. I had heard a few stories of the physical abuse but did not realize how severe it was. She eventually started to receive counseling that she did not deserve the beatings and tried to stop the relationship. Late one night, I got a call that her husband had snapped, and had been stalking her. He eventually climbed into her house, shot and killed her, then shot and killed himself. She was only 25. This devasted my family. This sister was the "glue" that held our family together despite its dysfunction.
My girlfriend was very supportive during this time, but after dating for a year and almost getting engaged, we felt that God was calling us to different places and we broke it off.
My final year of college, I felt called to attend a church in a nearby city. It was an Assemblies of God church with a good college/career group. One assistant pastor there told me privately that he got a "Word of Knowledge" that I was being opressed by a "spirit of homosexuality". This was amazing since he did not know any of my testimony. We prayed that God would free me from this evil spirit's oppression, but offered me no additional help other than to find successful godly men (like the main pastor) to emulate. When asked about ministries for people who struggle, he did not seem to know of any, but felt that since I had never "acted out" that I really didn't need that type of ministry.
Well, my final quarter in college was a full time internship in my chosen field. I could go anywhere in the country. I applied and was accepted at a large university in a major East Coast city. After my internship, I got a full-time job in the same city. I ended up working for a non-profit organization that was very politically on the left; regardless, I knew it would be would be an excellent opportunity to grow professionally and I knew I could "ignore" the politics for a season. Unfortunately, many on the staff there were openly gay. Though they did not know of my struggles (at least they did not seem to) they shared with me a lot of their own problems and struggles. We had a big "AIDS Education" push and I ended up getting quite an education on the lifestyle, going to government-sponsored workships that held back nothing in regards to the lifestyle. Unfortunately, this fed the longing for male companionship even more.
I had found another AG church to attend. It did not have a large singles group, but had a nice men's ministry that had several activities. We attended one regional conference and one of the break-out sessions was "Ministering to the AIDS Epidemic". This was in the late 80s so this was a very "hot-button" issue at the time with a lot of misconceptions. I thought for sure that the leader would show love and compassion and try to encourage the church to reach out to those who were in the gay lifestyle. I was wrong. He gave out basic information about the HIV virus and then proceeded to belittle gay men saying what "possible pleasure could they get out of anal sex?" proceeding to compare it with a rectal exam or a colonoscopy. I couldn't believe what I was hearing!! Where was the love and compassion??
Commuting to work was another experience! I started realizing there was a whole sub-culture of subtle winks, nods and laughs as a way for men to proposition one another. I had one man go through this routine and I must have responded the right way because he smiled, but looked disappointed when I did not get off at his stop. Another one ended up following me home to my apartment building. I told him I was sorry if I sent the wrong signals, but I was not interested. He left extremely dejected. These incidents seemed to confused me even more. Was I gay? ? Were these men seeing something in me that I was denying myself??
Thankfully my father-in-law was a very godly man. He was a wonderful role model to me in the year we were dating and after we were married. He accepted me as if I were his son. Unfortunately he died of cancer soon after our 1-year wedding anniversary. Why would God allow him to die when He knew I needed this man in my life??
Both my wife and I wanted children. Even though I had NO idea how to be a father, especially to a boy -- if we were to have a son, I still wanted children. We tried for several years, then, after seeing a fertilty specialist, we were able to conceive. I was REALLY worried. What if I was a LOUSY father? What if it was a boy? How would I be able to model what a man was supposed to be like?? I prayed that, if it was in God's will, to let me first be a father to a girl before I had the added pressures of being a father to a boy. In His great mercy, we had a daughter.
She was very special to me. The week after she was boern, we had to take her in for tests. Having to hold her in my arms while they drew blood out of her foot was so painful (moreso for me than for her). She wailed from the pain, but I knew I had to let the nurse do what she needed to do in order to keep her healthy. It broke my heart to see that pain. All I could do was to hold her and try to let her know that even though was was in pain, that she was loved and was still safe in my arms. That is when I KNEW that I was her father. It was also at that moment that God reminded me -- "That is how I am with you!" God knows that sometimes we HAVE to experience pain in our lives. We have to experience times of tribulation. These things do not COME from Him, but he allows them to occur. He knows that these things are the only way to keep us healthy and to grow into the men and women He wants us to become.
Since I pretty much grew up without a father, when I accepted Jesus into my life, I could never fully understand the three aspects of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I understood about Jesus, the Son, right away. In college, after atending several "Spirit-filled" churches, I gained a deeper knowledge and understanding of the Holy Spirit. I still, however, could never understand the character of God the Father. I knew that we were supposed to pray to Father God in the name if the Son, Jesus, but I was never comfortable with that. I would just always pray to Jesus, knowing that he would understand. When I became a father, however, Father God started showing me and teaching me what His true character was. Every time I would have special father-daughter moment, he would gently remind me that this is how He is with me!!
Unfortunately, the added stress of family life only made my struggles worsen. Even though I was driving to appointments, I would still heavily fantasize. While my wife was pregnant and with the exhaustion of caring for a newborn, we were rarely intimate, though my own libido seemed to be on overdrive. She stayed at home full time to take care of the baby and I always felt awkward "relieving" my tensions while she was there. I would end up going to public restrooms between appointments to "take care of business." I was soon in for a shock to find out that these were also "pick-up" and "cruising" places -- especially in big cities. Again, I was subtly propositioned on many occasions. I felt like I was 2 different people. On one hand, I was a loving and caring Christian father and husband, while on the other I was a frustrated sex-crazed pervert, only out to satisfy my own desires. I literally felt like I was going insane! One day while in my car, I finally broke down and prayed, "God, either you take this away and heal me of this or I am going to leave my wife and go full-tilt into the gay lifestyle!!"
A few minutes later, an ad appeared on the Christian radio station I was listening to. They were telling about a conference that was coming to town about Healing from Homosexuality. It was coming in a few weeks and they gave a phone number to the local ex-gay ministry that was hosting the conference. Sometimes God works extremely fast!! I went to a pay phone (this was back in the olden days when only doctors and rich people had car phones), and called the ministry. I told the group's leader I had heard the ad and that I needed help. He listened and prayed with me and encouraged me to attend the conference with my wife and then to come to the weekly support group meetings he sponsored.
My wife and I attended the all-day conference. It felt so freeing to be in a place where I could for once be myself and not have to wear a mask. A place where I could be accepted for ME and who I was, not who I was expected to be (or at least what -- in my own warped mind -- I thought people expected me to be). There were speakers present who were once male prostitutes with hundreds and even thousands of partners. Yet they were able to find freedom from SSA through God's love. I was also able to purchased several books on the subject to deepen my understanding.
I started attending the weekly support group meetings. They were extremely helpful to learn where the SSA came from and to also learn how to receive healing from it.
(Portion below was newly posted 8-2-2005)
After a few meetings, the leader convinced me to purchase several books to read through to help me understand SSA better. One of the books, by Leanne Payne, shared the story of a woman who was raped by a man. I was in my car in between work appointments when I read the testimony. As the woman described her abuse (forced oral sex) I had a vision. I could see myself in her situation, as if it was happening to me. I felt a wave of pain and fear come over me. I couldn't stop crying. I realized that this wasn't mere empathy for the victim. I knew that this had actually happened to me!! I was scared and confused, not knowing what to do. I went to a pay phone (in the days before cell phones) and called the ministry leader. He prayed with me over the phone and helped me to calm down. We agreed that God was revealing to me some of the sources of my SSA, beyond just the abuse by the minister. This made sense, since I remember struggling with SSA long before the incident with the minister.
I was not sure when the abuse occured, though I knew I was very young. I suspected it was my father who was an abuser, since he had the most access and opportunity, but I thought it best to withhold judgment until God revealed more to me. Regardless of the abuser's identity, this "revelation" was still very helpful. It made many things make sense. I knew I always had a fear/mistrust of all men. I had problems relating to God as my "Father." It also explained my dislike for raw tomatoes -- I never minded the taste, just the texture, and the feeling of the "guts" exploding in your mouth when you bite into one. (I know this is graphic, and rather gross, but it makes a lot of sense, at least to me!) Furthermore, I remember when I was about 5 or 6, my mother would take us three kids to the local pool for swim lessons. My sisters loved the water. I liked playing in the water, but when I took the swim lessons, the instructor tried to get our heads underwater without holding our nose. I refused, so she "helped" me by pushing my head underwater. I FREAKED OUT! I ran out of the pool as fast as I could and ran to my mom crying. I felt so afraid -- that I couldn't breathe. Ever since that time I was afraid to learn to swim, and especially did not like liquid in my nose. I could temporarily ignore those fears as an adult, but the fears remained. I realized when the abuse was happening, I could not breathe. This is where those fears came from.
My wife and I grew tired of living in a large metropolis, and soon realized it was not a healthy place to raise a child. I applied for work near Raleigh, NC and got the job. Four months after starting to attend the ex-gay ministry, I would be leaving. Many members of the ministry helped us pack up the rental truck. We were off on a new adventure. I was concerned about finding a new ministry and a church where I might continue in my healing process.
(More testimony Coming Soon!!)