Life with Same-Sex Attraction1
Why I’m Writing This
I’ve had several conversations with Ricky about my struggles with same sex attraction, and how we as a church could reach out to and minister to others who share this struggle. For now, and for a start, I’m writing a blog post about my life and story with two initial goals in mind: The first is to give some hope to others who are struggling with their sexuality and their faith and who may be feeling utterly hopeless. The second is to provide some awareness and insight for the rest of the Church who doesn’t struggle this way. I hope that what I say makes sense and at very least provides a starting point for some much needed conversation in this area.
A Quick Note
As an introduction to this post, I thought it would be good to begin by explaining that everyone’s story is completely different and completely their own. I struggle with “same sex attraction.” That’s how I prefer to phrase it, although one of my very dear friends who is a believer and has very similar struggles to me uses the phrase “gay orientation” to describe himself. While I had a very young and uninvited series of sexual experiences that I believe greatly influenced my sexuality (I’ll go into more detail later), I have plenty of friends who have had perfectly healthy, happy, and normal childhoods, and are attracted only to the same sex.
So having said all of that, I think it’s important that if you’re struggling with same sex attraction or homosexuality, however you want to say it, that you don’t put yourself in a box. You’re you, and there isn’t necessarily a black and white answer, or simple reason, as to why you are just the way you are. Our common bond is that we are all more broken and sinful than we could have ever imagined, and through Christ more loved and accepted than we could have ever dared to dream. I hope that brings peace and comfort and sinks deep into your soul. For those not struggling, I say it is equally important that you not put us who struggle into a box, either. We aren’t all one thing or another, and you do a great disservice to your brothers and sisters in Christ to assume otherwise. So, with those as a few opening thoughts, let me dive into my story.
I believe that my story and struggle with same sex attraction began when I was very young, maybe 3 to 5, when my neighbor who was just a year or two older than me began molesting me. To clarify what I mean by that, I’m talking about regular, un-wanted touching and contact from this boy to me. After this, I also had one instance where I tried to do the same thing to another boy who was a friend of mine. Such a terrible cycle, and one I’ve learned occurs quite often. I can’t remember how long this lasted, but I know for certain this time period and these instances were the most defining moments of my life up until the moment when I began to understand the gospel, and for most of my life they dominated my thoughts and how I viewed myself and the world. I have lived a majority of my life with this huge “secret” that I thoroughly believed was my fault and that unless I “fixed” myself (meaning to make myself attracted to girls and not boys), God would never love me, and I would never be “allowed” to be in love with someone else.
Sadly, and this became a pattern for me and a huge part of my testimony, when my parents found out about what was going on, instead of counsel and love and support, I was made to feel as though I had done something bad, even being told that behavior like this leads to AIDS and death. What a terrifying thing for a young boy to hear, and naturally we never talked about it again. So I carried my secret and its effects until I was 18.
The Hard Years
I think of the period of time between when this stuff happened to me as a kid and 18 years old as sort of “The Hard Years.” This is due in large part to puberty, which I know is hard for everyone. It felt doubly so for me because I carried so much shame knowing that I was attracted to other boys and I wasn’t supposed to be. Not only that, but I didn’t connect with other boys. I was incredibly sensitive, and just in general into more “girl oriented” activities. I never liked sports or the outdoors, and I was in constant juxtaposition to my brother who loved and excelled at all of those things. As an additional result of what had happened early on I had a number of emotional problems, and over the years was very isolated from the rest of my family.
I don’t think it’s all that helpful or necessary to provide a ton of details into how this struggle played out in a sinful way in my heart, mind, and in actuality over a period of many years. However, I do want to note that it wasn’t just that I was a victim and misunderstood and that those things made me have a confused sexuality, though on some level those statements are all true. It is also very true that I’m a sinner, and for a period of time I was completely convinced that I was and would always be gay, and I definitely pursued opportunities to live that out throughout my teenage years. At the same time, I really was a believer (though my understanding of the gospel was so poor), and these two sides of me tore at my soul all the time. It wasn’t until I was 16 that, for the first time, the thought crossed my mind that “it doesn’t have to be this way!” I didn’t have to be a slave to this thing with no other options. That thought took root, and two years later led me, for the first time, to reach out for some counsel and help, and to finally talk about what happened to me as a kid, as well as my ongoing sexual confusion and struggles. Such a relief…for a while.