Author’s note: This piece is another re-post of an earlier article. My goal is to have all of these posted in the next few weeks. I’ve had them on another website for a few years, and I’m combining as much as I can.
A word of caution — this article is a candid discussion of the struggle that I endured before coming to terms with my sexual orientation, and might be disturbing to some readers.
As Published in Church Street Freedom Press, April 21, 2005
“Are you sure you’re going to heaven?” The question still rings in my ears. Somehow, the added syllable in ‘sure’ which makes it sound like ‘sugar’ without the ‘g’ catapulted the word into the realm of my most vivid memories. Well, yes. I am sure. I have been ‘sure’ since I was nine.
After all, I had done everything the preachers and church leaders told me I had to do to ensure salvation. I invited Jesus Christ into my life. I repented of my sins (well, whatever horrible sins I had committed by that time of course). I went to Sunday school every week. I prayed. I read the Bible. I was baptized.
By my pre-teen years, I had even been baptized a second time when my family joined the second-largest Baptist church in town.
Through it all, I was never more ‘sure’ of anything in my life than of my eternal destiny. Yet week after week, the question managed to escape the lips of some church member who was deeply concerned for the state of my soul.
Yes, I was sure I was going to heaven. I just wasn’t sure what to do with life here on earth. I sure as hell didn’t know what to do with the fact that the objects of my sexual fantasies were not girls.
My blind faith conveniently replaced mere rules with Biblical law: Don’t kiss. Don’t have sex with girls (not a problem since I didn’t want to). Don’t do drugs. Don’t steal. Don’t lie. Don’t talk back to your parents. Don’t drink.
And whatever you do, don’t be gay.
I didn’t even know what ‘gay’ was until later in life. People didn’t even like to say the word much less explain what it meant. If someone had to say it, they would lip-synch with inaudible exaggeration (yet everyone could plainly see what was being said).
By the time I reached adulthood, all of those rules began to take root in my own psyche. No! Don’t look at his ass! It sure is a nice, round, bubble butt, isn’t it? Wow, check out that package! No! Look at something else! It was a constant, relentless conflict.
I tried to silence both the voice of damnation and any sexual thoughts. I’d occupy my mind with other things. Any time I masturbated to an explosive orgasm (which was far more often than I’m willing to admit), I was immediately crushed with damnation, guilt, and mockery. You’re gaaaaay! You’re thinking of a guy! What was most disturbing about the voice wasn’t what it said. It was whose voice it was.
It was mine.
Nothing tormented me more than when I had to look in the mirror. I would see the face of a person who was violently torn on the inside. I am Christian. But I couldn’t stop being attracted to men. But somehow, I had to hide the deepest, darkest, struggle imaginable. I thought that it was a struggle that any competent Christian should have been able to overcome with just a few Bible quotes and some deep prayer.
So I did. I prayed. I cried. I agonized. And nothing changed.
When I discovered gay porn on the internet or read Penthouse Letters, I found something that struck me deeper than I ever imagined it would. I didn’t have to rely any longer on vague memories of other young men in a locker room communal shower as they lathered their bodies with a bar of soap. Now I had stories. They were stories of men like me who discovered their budding sexuality.
I wanted to experience the musky smell and the feel of a man’s strong legs as our bodies intertwined in a pool of sweat. I wanted to stroke those rippling muscles and rub them down inch by inch.
But I’m Christian. I didn’t want to go be an abomination.
What was once a casual struggle turned into open war. I avoided the mirror at all cost. I didn’t want to look at a homosexual, even if it was my own reflection.
Not only was I Christian, I was also a fundamentalist. I had to believe what I was told to believe whether the Bible said it or not. I was told that homosexuals are abominations. They’re depraved. They’re steeped in sin and have no hope. They’re going straight to hell. Or so I was told.
Could the Bible be wrong? Were the preachers wrong? Or was I wrong? Yeah, it was me. I had to stop being gay. I had to want to have sex with girls (but not actually have sex, of course). I had to be heterosexual. For the Bible tells me so.
Or did it? I wasn’t sure anymore.