|Posted on November 2, 2014 at 8:30 AM|
Before I share my thoughts, I think it's best to tell you a little about myself. I was born in 1961 in the state of Florida and remained there until 1982 when I left for the army. Being raised by my mom, a strong black woman, I had to take on many roles when she was at work: cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping on occasion and taking care of my 2 younger sisters. Most of these roles one would call feminine roles or women's work, but I never looked at it that way; maybe it's because it's all I knew. When I think back, I realize that I also picked up a few feminine mannerisms:
*Holding my school books up to my chest instead of down by my side like a guy should,
*Getting into a car butt first instead of leg first,
*Making sure my nails were long and clean,
*Crossing my legs at the ankles,
*Taking an interest in interior design & fashion and
*The dreaded "prissy" walk.
Not one of these occurred to me as being wrong or improper for a male. Again, it was all I knew. Being that I had no strong male role models in my life, I never played sports or had interest in them. The same is true for working on cars or any other "manly" jobs.
On May 5th of 1979, I had sex for the first time with a woman (notice how I remembered the date there?). Being that I never had "the talk" with anyone and I wasn't allowed to attend the school's sex education classes, I really didn't know what to do or expect. I knew absolutely nothing about foreplay or lube or condoms. Needless to say, it could've been better. A few days after that, I had this overwhelming urge to try sex with a guy. (I think this stems from being forced to take group showers for the first time in grade 8 after gym class.) Not knowing where to go or what to look for, I just thought about it. Then one day while waiting on a bus to go home, I saw this guy looking at me. We started talking and he suggested we go somewhere to have sex. And I must say, I enjoyed it. I really did, but now I was torn between what was expected of me as a black male and what I wanted and was easier to get, so I tried sex with the same woman again.
During the summer, I kept going out looking for sex with men. In August of 1979, I'd become a Christian. And during the first few months, the guilt of having these feelings for men was overwhelming. It just felt wrong. I wasn't sure what to do. When you grow up as a black male in the Bible Belt, there's a lot of pressure to fit a certain image. You're supposed to be strong and very masculine. That wasn't me by any stretch of the imagination. I wanted to be with men, but also wanted to live the life of a good Christian. There was so much conflict within me.
I tried talking to my then best friend about what I was going through; hoping he could help in some way. He didn't know what to say to me, so he talked to the singles pastor about it. The singles pastor came to me and told me that I needed to leave the church. All I was doing was seeking help...advice, but instead, I was turned away from the very people who I thought would accept me and help guide me through this struggle.
For months, I would leave home giving my family the impression that I was still going to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I was "dating" a girl from church at the time who knew of my struggle. The following summer, I went down to the church to see her off the church's summer camp. The security guards at the church called police and had me escorted off the property. It was truly embarrassing. After that, I stopped pretending to attend church. Even though I wasn't going anymore, the desire to be close to God was strong, but also was my desire to have sex with guys. I'd go to malls, parks, clubs and anywhere else I could think of to find it. The thing is, after I'd have sex with them, I felt overwhelmingly guilty about it and would buy Christian music immediately after to help relieve the guilt. The more sex I had, the more music I bought. Needless to say, I'd become a regular at the Christian music store.
For the next couple of years, I kept going back and forth between sex with guys and the Christian music store. One day I decided to go into the army. My thought was it'd make me more of a real man and I wouldn't have feelings for them, but for women. It worked for a while, but I found myself doing the same old thing. Over the years, I'd joined 2 more churches and explained my situation to each, but again I was rejected instead of reaching out to help me. My faith in Christians, God and church was thrown out the window. I went on a 4 year sex binge.
One thing I couldn't understand was how could all these churches be such hypocrites? For years I'd go to church and see other guys who were effeminate--guys who obviously had to be gay--singing in the choir, working as a choir director or playing the piano. Why are these guys allowed to remain in the church, but a guy like me who's actively seeking help/support for this gets turned away time after time after time? The only thing I could come up with is maybe I should've just kept it on the "DL" (the down-low). For those who aren't familiar with that term, it means that certain guys in certain ethnic groups have sex with other guys but don't look at themselves as being gay. It's just sex. Two of the most prominent ethnic groups are the Black and Latino cultures. It's been going on for decades and decades and most of the churches have just turned a blind eye to it all. It was true back in the '70s/'80s and it's still true today. The church body would rather ignore what's going on instead of reaching out to guys/women (of all ages) dealing with SSA (same-sex attraction) or struggling to get away from homosexuality. And the sadest part of it all, those sneaking around hooking up/having sex, don't see anything wrong with it. And without strong leadership in their lives, it'll just continue. What does this say about their faith or the guidance from other Christians?
I have to ask myself, "Why do we allow this to happen?" They have groups for gambling addiction, alcohol and drug abuse, support for those who have committed adultery, and so on, but THEY ABSOLUTELY REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE THIS EVER GROWING PART OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY. As one who has seen the effects first-hand, and have heard of others who are afraid to share because of being ostracized, it's very evident that the need is there for support, encouragement and the love of Christ to these hurting and lonely people.
When will the church open its eyes and ears to see the damage they are causing amongst its own? Every day more and more people go to work, school or family functions pretending everything is hunky dorey when it's not. Most of them go home alone and spend hours crying because of the pain and rejection they deal with. Some even go to the extreme and commit suicide because they don't know who they can trust with any of this. I myself, tried suicide over 50 times. The need for help is real. The need for love is real. The numbers grow daily and so does the pain. Wake up church. Wake up!!
The desire...the need for acceptance in the Christian community, with family and friends is so strong that those dealing with SSA or struggling to leave homosexuality, that many would rather give the appearance that they're happy in a heterosexual relationship or at least looking to be in one when the actuality is they're miserable inside. Sometimes the SSA becomes so strong that it ears away at them, but they're willing to tough it out as long as humanly possible because of all the pressure placed on them. They go to family functions or get-togethers with their friends who are married or dating and think things like: "I wish I could be in a relationship like this." or "Will I ever have a family of my own?" The world, especially that of the Christian community, gives the impression that one isn't whole unless they're married and have a family. That couldn't be further from the truth. Many a person has shown how productive, successful and happy they can be living a life of singleness, but many of the Christians in our lives insist on fixing us up and/or making comments about when we're going to get married, especially to men in ethnic cultures because it's expected of them. If you're not married, especially at a certain age, something's wrong with you. It's completely unfair! Again, I say, wake up!
I lived with sexual addiction, depression, anxiety, loneliness and so much more for almost 3 decades, but that's all behind me now. The last time I was with a guy sexually was March 26, 2008 and haven't regretted it once. Sure, there are times when I reminisce about it all, but I wouldn't go back to it for a minute. God has done some great things in my life since putting all that behind me:
*Given me a great church family
*Opened doors for me to share my story with others without feeling afraid or ashamed
*Finally found true Christian male friends (something I longed for for years) and
*Given me the opportunity to work with other guys dealing with SSA and/or trying to leave homosexuality and even straight guys dealing with porn and masturbation addiction.
As one who'll be 53 in a couple of days, I feel closer to God more now than I ever have. Do I regret any of the stuff I did? Sure I do; at least most of it. But you know, it's made me who I am now.
Those struggling with SSA or homosexuality should be loved, not turned away. The latter has being going on for far too long. Why does the church body insist on judging those who aren't like them--who make them feel uncomfortable? Christ talked to AND died for the lame, the broken, the hurt, the sinner. We are ALL those people. Don't forget that.
2 November 2014
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