I was in 5th grade when I had my first exposure to pornography.
A boy brought a porn magazine into the changing room at the private school I was attending at the time. All the other boys gathered around to stare, but when I saw the photos I felt embarrassed and moved away.
I was in 7th grade when I had my second exposure to porn. But this time, instead of a random, one-time event in school, it was my next-door neighbor – and instead of being embarrassed and walking away, I was drawn to it. But as I was looking at the images of men and women having sex, I felt that something was wrong.
You see – I had grown up in a Christian household. I had prayed and asked Jesus into my heart when I was very young. I knew that I was supposed to grow up and get married one day and have a family. And yet, in spite of all those realities, as I stared at the pictures I was seeing, I was drawn to the images of the men.
According to every personality test I’ve taken (and I feel like I’ve taken them all), I’m prone to being a perfectionist. As hindsight is always 20/20, I can see now how I didn’t know how to process and reconcile these new realities – my faith in Christ, my conservative upbringing, and my sexual attraction to men. So I did the only thing I could do in my situation – I compartmentalized it. I shoved it into an airtight mental lockbox and hid it from everyone – myself included. I saw it as a flaw – an imperfection – a mistake in my core being of beings.
Fast-forward through high-school and college – the internet becomes a thing, and suddenly I no longer need my friend’s collection of porn magazines anymore. I’m able to look for whatever I want online now. My addiction to porn, gay porn specifically, took hold fast. My daily use, sometimes multiple times a day, only fueled more conflicts within me: body image, jealousy, envy, co-dependence, secrecy, and more.
I created two lives for myself. There was my public life, where I made it my mission to never do anything to appear gay – I was the good Christian boy. And then there was my private life, where I consumed as much gay porn as possible. Unfortunately, those two lives weren’t willing to live together – so their conflict tried to kill me, quite literally.
I don’t like talking about my attempted suicide, but it happened. I felt the overwhelming pain of my brokenness and the feeling that God himself hated me. I wanted to experience love and intimacy from another man, and yet knew that I could never pursue that kind of lifestyle. I felt so conflicted and lost and hopeless that I couldn’t live with myself.
My senior year of college my discipler/mentor in Cru, along with one of my best friends at the time, who was also on staff with Cru, confronted me about my addiction to pornography. It was an ugly confrontation, full of tears and yelling as I was faced with the reality of the depths of my addiction to pornography. At the end, I was just emotionally broken. I felt exposed and vulnerable, watching my carefully crafted identity crumble around me. And yet, as they were leaving, one of them stopped, turned around, and said something that cut right to my soul:
“I don’t want you to think what I’m saying is trivial, but I love you.”
I heard God speaking directly to me through my friend. He saw my brokenness, and instead of being repulsed, he showed me love and grace and acceptance. I knew I had finally found the people who loved me enough that I could tell them about my attraction to men and not worry about being rejected.
Finally opening up to these men about my sexual orientation was the most freeing and healing experiences I have ever had. I was finally able to let others into this area of my heart that I had sealed away and hidden, and instead of running away from me, they ran toward me. They were intentional in their time by engaging with me as a brother – never avoiding conversations about my sexuality, but instead leading them. Not withdrawing physical affection, but showing greater affection.
It was an amazing time of healing and restoration for me. And through their love and relationship, as well as through counseling provided by my church, I was starting to accept my identity in Christ, and my identity as a man who is also attracted to men. Little did I know that God had another surprise in store for me – a wife and children.
Even though I was, and still am, exclusively attracted to men, God put someone directly in my path, and opened my eyes to view her in a way I never saw any other woman. She loved me exactly as I was – my attraction to men and everything. I was drawn to her, and we both knew that it was God bringing us together. Our relationship was based on Jesus first and foremost – recognizing that we were both broken people, and yet finding the beauty in Christ by using our brokenness to provide healing in our lives.
13 years and three children later, we’re still together. Even through some hard times, Christ continues to be our foundation.
What’s amazing to me is that at 38 years old I am still learning things about who I am. Thankfully, because I know my ultimate worth and value and satisfaction come through my relationship with Jesus, I’m able to confront the ugly parts of my being, and give Christ praise as he turns those parts that I think are ugly and worthless into things that are beautiful and wholesome.
tl;dr – I am a follower of Jesus Christ, who has blessed me with a wife and three beautiful children. I am also sexually attracted to men. There have been times where I viewed my sexuality as a curse – something to be fixed, or hidden, or denied. But Jesus has been showing me, more and more, that He didn’t make a mistake when he gave me my personality and my body and my sexuality. He wants me to be a good steward of all the things He has blessed me with, including my sexuality.