Who knows what really happened all those years ago, but this is the ‘official version’ of parts of my life, which even if not exactly true have become factual through my remembering.
So I must have been 11 or so in Grade 5 and I was masturbating one night and imagining naked guys as you do and it wasn’t at the time, but later I would be disturbed that I was thinking about guys. Shouldn’t I be thinking about women? I felt wrong and scared. I can still visualise the image today that prompted my concern. At the time I didn’t have a clue that there was such a thing as two men who loved each other instead of a man and a woman.
I think I had a crush on my Grade 5 teacher. I didn’t realise it at the time, but later when I was older it dawned on me that I liked him as more than a teacher. I didn’t have sexual fantasies or anything, but I did think about him a bit and wondered what he would look like shirtless. He used to let me go to the library to use the newly invented internet a lot and that was nice. Later when I worked out I felt things for him I wondered if I had been overly obvious, as I had no idea what I was feeling, and he had wondered whether I was a poof in the making. When we were in year 10 or something I was standing outside the science rooms waiting for the teacher to come so we could start class and my Grade 5 teacher walked past and he didn’t make eye contact and I was like ‘oh no, he knows,’ but he was probably just having a bad day, haha.
In Grade Six I would learn that liking guys had a name. It was when I used to sit with a friend and four others in a three desk rectangle shape. One day a couple of the girls and my friend were just talking about stuff and then somehow the word ‘gay’ came up and what it meant. And I was like ‘oh no’ that describes me. I’d probably heard about gayness and homosexuality before, but never thinking it applied to me and therefore not really caring about it.
That year I liked a guy named Taylor ’cause everyone had to at least once, I guess, he was just that type of person. And with him my guy type was set sporty, thin, populerish and someone who seemed slightly outside the norm. I want to define my desire for Taylor in that it, again, wasn’t really a sexual desire. We must have had swimming classes that year and even today I can visualize him naked after one of those, but it’s just a naked body; it didn’t mean anything to me. I didn’t want to do anything to it.
This may seem like I am focusing a lot on school and not on anything else, but I honestly didn’t think about my newfound gayness at home. It didn’t affect my interactions with my parents. I felt wrong in that I was outside the expected societal norm, but these desires had just happened to me and so also seemed normal at the same time.
So Year 7 started and a new crush this time: Mark. I found his facebook site last year and I used to think he was pretty good looking, but he wasn’t really or he isn’t now. He was my type again: tall, thin, athletic, populerish and slightly outside the norm of that or so it seemed to me then, which created the reality even if it was nothing like that. The thing is I liked him basically from the moment I saw him and that happened even last year as well with another similar person. I have no idea what the spark is that sets off the chain reaction within me.
Around this time I really, really wanted to find someone who I could tell everything to about my gay desires and who I would be really close to. I wanted it to be Mark, but I guess anyone would be better then nothing. I used to imagine how he would be gay and we would be great friends and share secrets and I wouldn’t feel so alone in my feelings. Not that I was depressed or anything I still accepted it as the way it was and didn’t really think about whether my parents would find out or if anyone would know.
I coped with my gay feelings by channeling them into obsessive infatuations for guys. I would try to see how many times a day I could see them and think about them on the bus ride home. If I spotted them and they looked my way I would feel happy and if they didn’t I would feel sad. For example one day I had a migraine and Mark was talking to another friend while we were waiting for the bus. I was sitting on my school bag where people waited for the buses with my eyes closed and they said something about me and Mark tapped my leg, gently, with his foot in a kind of wake-up maneuver. It was a happy day that one.
When I got contact lenses late in year 8; I could see way clearer and noticed that Mark would look at me and make eye contact. I was pretty excited and thought, ‘he might be gay and like me, yay; yay’. This caused my obsessive infatuation to become more fanatical. In reality it was probably that without contacts or glasses I could stare at him and never make eye contact, but now when I stared at him I did. I do wonder if he thought I was slightly weird for it. Anyway I had become terribly convinced that Mark truly was about to become my special gay friend and I would finally feel complete and joyous. Then one Wednesday after sport I heard he had a girlfriend. I was crushed. That night when I got home I quickly got changed and ran to the haystack and cried for a while. Like seriously cried, real tears and real wailing. Now at the age of 23 I almost laugh at myself; how I could so delude myself into thinking anybody was gay just because of a few moments of eye contact.
I did find it hurtful when people would say things against gay people at my Christian high school. Whenever anyone discussed the Sydney gay and lesbian mardi gras or whatever, I would always try to look ‘normal’ so no one would suspect anything. Inside I felt tiny and knew it wouldn’t be a good thing for my secret to get out. I think once in Year 10 a friend said something about killing all gays or similar and I tried not to be nice to him for a while after that. I think he was a bit confused about my attitude. Another memorable comment was “If I had a wish, I would wish that we could take all the hate out of the world; except for gays and stuff”. I felt small then. The thing about people who grow up in Christian homes and then go to a Christian school is that they adopt certain behaviours that fit the ‘culture’ they are a part of, but have nothing to do with being a Christian. I would say bagging gays is one of those.
We got the internet at home in Year 7 and that provided a bit of an outlet for my same sex attraction. I looked at porn for the first time that year, which began a long habit I have only recently (hopefully) re-beaten. To begin with I was too scared to search key words that were likely `to get me some nude guys and would type in ‘naked’ or ‘nude’ and then sifted through a lot of breasts to find some dick. I think I got past that pretty quickly and began the long process of cleaning out history and temporary internet files each time.
One day my dad did catch me looking at porn or a guy’s bum as it was. He was outside looking in the window and said ‘hey’ and knocked on it. I was scared massively and wandered if my whole world was going to crash in on me. I would say, now, that unfortunately it did not and my dad never mentioned it again. Perhaps he thought it was a woman’s bum or maybe he was continuing to avoid uncomfortable conversations as he is prone to.
If there is a scale of homosexuality to bisexuality to heterosexuality, I fit pretty much right next to the homosexuality end. I have never had an impure thought about a woman and, mostly, never desired to see them naked or begin a relationship with them. I could say more on this, but that will complicate my story.
My cousin showed me his semi-erect cock during this time, which was quite exciting for my 14-year-old self, but that was the closest I got to any action for years. That sounds almost boastful and it should not as this event would definitely be something I would change if I had a do over of life. As I thought about it lots over the years. To be honest I used to read testimony’s about same sex attracted guys who seemed to muck around with other guys a lot before they discovered Jesus, or Jesus discovered them as it were, and feel a tad jealous. But I don’t think I would have coped with anything; like literally it would have screwed me up and dominated my thinking for years, and I’m only exaggerating a little bit.
The internet also allowed me to begin searching for other guys with same sex attraction issues. There was a guy in America who was hot and a runner. He used to write really long interesting emails. There was someone from Brisbane who used to write three sentence emails and then one day he decided he was in love with me and sent me a recording of himself talking to me. I was a bit weirded out and didn’t reply. He sent me a nasty email telling me I had broken his heart. In late 2005 I would have a crush on someone I had spoken to on messenger two times and so I can kind of understand where he was coming from now. There were others as well like a crazy guy about my age who said he lived in an apartment in Melbourne and his parents were never there. He was relatively interesting to talk to on ICQ. One night during the Sydney Olympics apparently this guy was going to be having some ‘fun’ with Ian Thorpe after he had swam. It’s entirely possible he made 80 per cent of his life up.
These are the most notable people from my early internet gay searches. I got sick of trying to find internet friends as they seemed to go nowhere. I never really got to talk about my loneliness or obsessive crushes or anything like that. A few times I tried chatrooms, but again no one wanted to talk deeply. All they seemed to want to know was age/sex/location, and a couple of guys found this naïve teenager would help with their cyber sex fantasying. Still I was undeterred in my belief that eventually some guy would help me find true happiness and a feeling of belonging.
In year 10 my infatuation attentions shifted to a guy named Jake who was a couple of years younger than me. I noticed him when we both used to have buses that left school about half an hour after it finished. I wrote in my journal, “waiting for the bus I made eye contact with Jake and I have no idea why”. Like hell, you idiot. My Mark obsession was waning and he was obviously straight, so I had to pile my hopes onto someone else. Again he was tall, thin, and populerish. I still don’t understand why I could become obsessed with a guy quite quickly.
That old cycle began as I found reasons to pretend he was gay. It was obsessive and a bit harder to get looks at during the day when Jake was at the middle school campus and not high school like me. I can’t be 100 per cent sure, but I think the reason I got up the courage to go for sports captain in Year 11 was so that I could see him more, as he was in the same house, and indeed when I was voted vice-captain I quickly asked for a list of everyone in my house so I could “learn names,” but really I wanted to see what info was on there about Jake. I think his middle name was Allan and he was born mid-year.
Even though there was basically no reason whatsoever for me to think he was gay I still managed to delude myself that there really was a chance. Again it was a coping mechanism it was the way my mind found to create some pleasurable feelings in the midst of pain. “I do hope that there is someone gay out there that I will meet soon. I know that it would be better if we didn’t like each other, but that is really the only way you can tell,” I wrote in my journal one day in March 2001.
I never thought of telling anyone in real life in those days. Did. Not. Consider. It. At. All. If I could go back I would tell my parents when I was 12. I don’t know what they would have done or how they would have reacted, but I think it would have been better. The shame of secrecy and the loneliness of hiding would be somewhat alleviated. I wouldn’t build up nine years of private thoughts that I didn’t share with anyone and therefore they became a bit irrational.
So I liked Jake for three years until we left year 12. He was a bad, bad crush as he was friends with the evil Rod. In year 11 I felt Rod and his friends were picking on me all the time. One day he did shout ‘Chris is a girl’ a few times across the courtyard, but I can’t remember much more than that. I used to love going on walks with a mate around the school at lunchtime, because we could go past the place where Jake would be. I think they noticed we walked past every day and picked on me. It was weird in that I was so certain they were picking on me, but I only have a few examples of them doing it. I wondered recently whether it was mainly in my head. Like when they gave out flowers at the end of year 12 I got a pink one and I thought one of them said ‘Chris got a pink one; he’s gay’. If I hadn’t have liked Jake I wouldn’t have thought about it at all.
I did cry about it as I drove home on the last day of year 12. The tears were less about Jake and more that I had wasted literally hours that year daydreaming about him and trying to walk where he was so I could look at him. I seriously did believe that he was gay. Even after I heard him and one of his friends bagging me; even after he got a girlfriend. What did I want so much that I thought he could provide? I have not obsessed about another guy as much as I did with Mark and Jake since.
In late 2003 the church denomination my small little church was a part of approved practicing homosexuals in monogamous relationships to become pastors. It sent a few shock waves through our little church as everyone was opposed to this decision. I love a battle for Biblical truth, so part of me was excited, but part of me didn’t like it when homosexual became a seven syllable word as my grandfather pronounced ho-m-o-s-ex-u-al, or my mum said homos with a voice of disdain. My mother would lead the anti-gay minister charge in our community. I was proud and sad.
One night they had a meeting with one of the pro-gay minister representatives from the denomination. It got heated and my then 16-year-old sister and I ran out and cried in each other’s arms. I’m not sure what made her cry; but this was super painful stuff for me. Through it all I didn’t hear anyone articulate a faithful Christian view on same sex attraction. People were either far right or far left. Not that I knew what the right view was in those days. Our little church of 15 would leave the denomination and become a little fellowship all of it’s own in April 2004, which allowed me to start preaching.
My first year of university matured me somewhat. I lived on campus with a few other guys in a little house, with six bedrooms, two showers, toilet and living space. One of the guys I lived with was named Ben. He had a high voice and I ended up with a very slight infatuation with him. We used to play tennis heaps, which I loved, and watched the AIDS drama “angels in America” together. Others said he was gay and I wondered if he was and tried to find out by taking moral stands against gay adoption. Last year when I found his facebook it turned out he was gay. I’m not sorry I didn’t find out at the time as in semester two we would spend two nights alone in the house together and if he had have wanted to do something I would have most certainly agreed.
I was a sin fighting machine in those days. I sin more when I’m happy then sad, but mainly when I’m tired, apathetic and bored. The start of uni was super hard socially, hard academically and frustrating. It was intense and I did not masturbate in that residence for months and months (though I did when I went home for the weekends). I even considered myself as living an asexual type existence at one point.
I finally did find a halfway decent gay person on the internet in 2004. His name is Gavin. He was looking for a long term relationship with a nice guy. We exchanged heaps of emails for a year or so and we met in the city in the winter of 2004 and watched Spiderman 2 together at Crown. The band, Killing Heidi, has the song at the end. It went “I am, out on my own, moving in shadow, nobody knows who i am, standing alone, and that’s me, but you can’t see”. The words were pretty descriptive of what I was feeling. It was the first time I had ever been in the physical presence of someone gay who knew I liked guys. I was nervous as hell and he was pretty quiet. On the train on the way home I was pretty satisfied with the meeting and he sent me a text saying he thought I was cute and he had had a good time. A few weeks later he sent a text that said “are you sure you can’t have a relationship?” I said yes, I’m sure. He didn’t really stay in contact as much after that.
It never rains it pours and by September I knew someone else gay. Max was a guy in my journalism course and he made the word gay capitalised. He wasn’t massively over the top, but after spending a bit of time with him it was obvious. In class one day we had been talking about page three girls in The Sun newspaper in the UK and he needed to borrow something from me after class and so we were alone in the classroom after everyone had left. So I said to him, ‘do you actually like the page threes?’ and he was like ‘what do you mean?’ and I said ‘women’. He said ‘do you really want to know?’ I said ‘yes’. He said ‘no’. I said ‘me neither’. He was shocked. And we walked silently for a while and right past where we were meant to be going. I went back to the house to see if Ben was there so I could slam some tennis balls, but he wasn’t, so I ate a carrot and went to my next class.
My heart beat pretty fast for the rest of the day. Max and I didn’t really talk about it, but he was nicer to me. Everytime I went on messenger that summer he would talk to me and occasionally he tried to get me to discuss his penis, which he assured me was quite large. With these experiences I finally gave up the dream of finding a special guy who would allow me to reveal my inner pain and loneliness in the struggle. It seemed to me that my desire for this was unlikely to be fulfilled.
As for Max I think he tried to come onto me the next year. We would spend time in the library and look at all these books on the shelves and run around and look at more books, and he would grab my hand. I said ‘no’ and he was crushed. Whenever I was around Max I could not say anything intelligent at all. He just made me so nervous/excited, even though I didn’t really have a crush on him except for a couple of intense months later in 2005. He was pretty much the same with me. He would talk on the net, but in person he hardly said anything, even though we would say we were friends. But when group work came up we never had the guts to ask each other to work with the other one.
Part of the reason Max and I never went anywhere was that the height of my interest in him, mid to late 2005, was when I finally dealt with my same sex attraction from a Christian perspective. Up until now I’ve avoided talking about where God was in my last few years, so lets go back to the beginning.
I grew up in a small country church with about 15 old people and between 10 and two kids. It was dead, dead, dead and while my Mum had wanted to leave; my Dad wanted to stay, so we did. I was Bible smart, like the time in children’s church I answered almost all the questions in a quiz we had and was unceremoniously moved out with the big people at the age of 12. This made me sad and hurt because of the way it happened. My dad just said to me one day ‘you’re staying in church’ in a gruff sort of way and I hadn’t even been told there were even thoughts I wouldn’t be able to go out the back to eat snack food.
As I grew up in the church I’m not sure exactly when I became a Christian. I started to read my Bible daily and pray quite young; maybe at the age of 10. I would read Christian articles on the internet and subscribed to a few ‘inspirational’ email subscriptions with their sugary “Christian” goodness. Probably prayed the sinners prayer a few times just to be certain.
I point to the age of 15 as when I became a Christian; in the spring of 2000. I think one time I had been looking at porn and masturbating a lot and I said sorry and something clicked and then I felt great for a month. So close to God and wanted to get closer, so content in myself and sin was so easy to beat. I even wanted to sing loudly to old hymns played on an organ in church. Yep; it was pretty clear I had been saved.
Though I wasn’t dealing with my homosexual issues any differently; I wouldn’t for another five years. I knew that porn and jacking off were bad, and that liking guys wasn’t right, but that’s about as far as my thinking went. I thought my guy obsessions were unhelpful for my personal development and not sinful or even representing deep seated issues that should be dealt with.
My Christian life would continue on a similar tangent for the next three and a half years. Read the Bible, pray, read Christian books and net articles, go to church and find it mildly enjoyable and enlightening. My Christian life in 2001 was defined by walking with God when I had depression. I’m pretty sure I got depression by going cold turkey onto very strong anti-acne tablets. In 2002 it was feeling like I was being bullied by Rod and finding God in that and going home lots of nights and listening to “Simon” by Lifehouse: “And don’t believe the lies that they have told to you. Not one word was true: you’re alright, you’re alright, you’re alright.” Nothing defined 2003, but I continued to fight sin, do the things you need to do to get closer to God and so on. In 2004 I had to trust God through an embarrassing health issue that kept me praying before it stopped being a problem.
I was still confused about what it meant to be gay and a Christian in late 2004. It was in 2005 that God would finally shine some light on how I should deal with my SSA issues as a Christian, or it was the first time I was finally ready to be given more information. I mean that sincerely; when I thought about it there was no other time up until now that I would have been ready to learn, process and change. Maybe the lack of an obsessive crush on some guy consuming all my energy was the reason.
In the winter of 2005 I helped my dad fix fences on his farm. We spent about 50 hours over four weeks replacing rusty barbed wire and straightening posts in the crisp air and warm sun. We worked well together and I can’t remember any notable disagreement or hurt feelings that characterised much of our joint farm work. There was another sort of straightening happening in my life that winter. After a physically challenging day in the paddock I would return to the computer and do the settingcaptivesfree Door of Hope homosexual course.
All this time later a verse I learnt in that course still sticks out to me. Jeremiah 2:12-13 “Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” I had never thought of myself as seeking to fill genuine desires with things that couldn’t and this was an appalling exchange considering our holy, awesome God. It hit me hard as I became aware of my own sinfulness in the area of same sex attraction beyond porn and so on. Beforehand I saw myself as a victim of these desires that just happened to me through no fault of my own. I used to ask my course mentor a few questions that came out of pride rather than humble submission. I wanted to know exactly whose fault it was and how it came to be that I had homosexual desires and also how many years it would take to make me straight.
Doing the course would also take me on another journey into telling people my same sex attraction secret. It was July 2005 and I made a time to see a friend on the way to my parents from university. I had been best man at his wedding earlier that year, so we were relatively close. It was dark and we were sitting in my car out the front of his house. My voice was shaking and I felt so much tension. But I told him. He was shocked and I’m not sure if I explained it that well in my nervous state.
When I got baptized a month or so later he hugged me and I felt perhaps the world wouldn’t be ending.
I didn’t stop with telling one person and shared with my best female friend at the time and a pastor who used to be my history teacher.
In September of 2005 I told my sister and parents. I told my sister in the lounge room as we sat next the windows. She didn’t seem shocked; didn’t seem worried. It was kind of weird. I wanted people to have some kind of reaction after all the years of pain and private struggle I had been through. A ‘meh’ response seemed to be a different sort of hurtful. Not that anyone had the perfect reaction: a long hug and a gentle, understanding voice saying “it must have been so hard for you”.
Anyway after lunch with my parents on the Sunday we stayed at the lunch table as you do sometimes just to enjoy each other’s company. I was so, so nervous. I knew I could never speak my story without crying heaps, so I had printed it out on a piece of paper. I couldn’t stay in the room as they finished it, but mum came and hugged me. Dad said he was proud of me and I would always be his son. We prayed. Again I don’t think they exactly grasped what I was telling them at that time.
Afterwards Mum would ask if the person (Gavin) I went to the city to see felt the same way about women as I did. Yes, he doesn’t feel much towards them either. Dad would come to me with an emotion strained voice and say this is really hard. In that moment I had something I always wanted, which was an acknowledgment from my father that he wasn’t all he could have been in my life.
My parents bought most of the Christian books dealing with same sex attraction. They were helpful and built on what the settingcaptivesfree course taught me. I saw that a lack of affirmation from Dad, perhaps caused by me defensively detaching from him, and lack of male confirmation from male peers were integral to my same sex attraction. I also came across the idea that the problem was healed in part through same sex friendships and it would take eight years before I would be massively different.
I told another mate as well about my SSA; it was still difficult to reveal myself to people.
A little bit of background. When I was alone in my struggle and aged 15 or so; I attributed some of my inability to connect with people to the fact that I struggled with SSA. I saw it as something stopping me from acting and talking like the ‘real me’ and also blocking people from getting in. This became an embedded ‘truth’ within myself and there was an expectation on my part that every SSA person had the same problem and therefore when I met and became friends with an SSA person this probably would disappear and for the first time ever I would have a true friend. Even my earlier ambivalent email interactions with SSA people from around the world had yet to cure me of this belief.
So in my interactions with Max, this guy who was gay in my course at univeristy, and me who struggled with same sex attraction, I thought that perhaps it would be easy to become close as friends. Finally I was free to be honest and real; finally the stumbling block to connecting with others was gone. To you this may seem silly; but this is how I felt and what part of me believed. Of course I would soon discover that my problem in this area wasn’t SSA, but my own reservedness, shyness, lack of social acumen etc. This early linking of my desire for connectedness and SSA has been unhelpful. Instead of dealing with each one on their own merits. Indeed so intertwined have these two issues become that my SSA story as it were is told via people: Taylor, Mark, Jake, Max, Ben and Gavin.
And the people who meant so much to me, my friends, were about to throw a grenade into the core of my deepest pain.
Before I get to the events of February 2006 I should say in the time between telling my mate about SSA in July 2005 and about November there was some ambivalence about sharing my news with any more people. I felt telling people had created awkwardness within me as I interpreted their actions and words in light of what they now knew about me. It was helpful as I wasn’t hiding something and was bringing my pain and sin to light, but going into 2006 I didn’t intend to share with anyone else.
You know when you’re around people who know a juicy secret and their actions and words hint at it. It was a mate’s 21st on a warm February night and it seemed there were a lot of ‘in jokes’ happening and quick topic changes when I walked into a conversation. I noticed it, but didn’t think too much about what it might mean. Later that week, after a trip to Melbourne for the motor show, I was with a friend at the train station and he said “I know about that”.…………………………………………. I have never felt more hurt in my life, never. I cried a couple of times, which is a rare thing for me.
It wasn’t just that people I told had told other people it was: this had been going on for about five months behind my back, my personal tragedy was being treated as gossip, I really loved these people, it made me feel my SSA had a certain wrongness to it and when I tried to get an explanation for it all apparently what happened was my fault for some reason. The betrayal as I would come to call the event would dominate my thinking for weeks and haunt me for months.
It’s three years ago now and while I still understand my reaction, my ‘world of hurt’, there’s some awareness of my misguided expectations of others, which were based on nine years of secrecy and thoughts I let no one hear. In a culture where being gay is no big deal, one of the dangers is people will care too little about SSA and what it means rather than too much. As for the people who caused me so much pain we were never good friends again, but I can have good-natured conversations when I see them at an engagement party or while out shopping.
I was in a weird place with God when all this happened. Fixing fences with dad and doing the settingcaptivesfree course in mid-2005 had led me to seeing God more as He is rather than how I thought he was. Then I had become excited about the sovereignty of God and who He is and due to this excitement wanted to share about it and went on a relatively short-lived evangelism kick. Those words do not do justice to how much these truths infused my thinking and living. I would say I was changed. But the high can’t last forever and by October I was jacking off heaps again. So when all this happened I guess I was in my default state: moderate sin and moderate God seeking. It did draw me closer to him and in mid-2006 I would have celebrated a year of freedom from pornography and racked up some 50 plus days of masturbation victory.
I started going to a same sex attraction group in September. It was weird. Again my long held hope that in meeting people dealing with the same stuff would lead to emotional closeness again reared its interaction destroying self. But it made me so very, very nervous like I was meeting the queen and not ten normal people who also shared the same problem. It was helpful too.
And then it was November 2006 and I started a xanga, and the rest, okay most of it, is written.
(names were changed in the creation of this story. I was partly inspired to do this by reading others’ back stories here on xanga, but it originally began as a super-honest letter to a mate on a sleepless night)