Being gay means a great deal more than just "sex with men." But we know that is part of it. For me (and, I suppose, for many), that was where our journeys started. I can't say I recall ever understanding that I had an "attraction to men." Since men aren't wired to have sexual attraction to other men, then I couldn't, right? Ha! Who knew? Not me.
But, from about the 4th grade on, I learned something that would ease the pain. All those years of compulsive masturbation. The drug that helped me sleep. And then, orgasm, ejaculation. OMG. What was that? Surely the lining of my kidneys were coming out! Ha.
I didn't know about straight sex till I was a little older. I just masturbated. A lot. Then, discovering some other men, masturbating in a restroom at the mall, I was overjoyed. I wasn't the only one! Then they came out of the stalls. The wanted to see mine. My what? Then . . . well . . . . they had their way with me. I didn't know men did that sort of thing with each other. OMG. This can't be happening. Oh, but the feeling. The drug. Even stronger than before. And they wanted me. Me.
But, with no way to process this information (even though I was sixteen at the time), I slumped into depression. And there was always masturbation.
Being a large, older-looking teenager, I discovered book stores. Of the adult variety. And glory holes. Then rest stops and, in grad school in the big city, sex clubs.
I knew something was amiss. But still, I would never have said I was "gay." Any time I engaged in such activity, there was an almost trance-like state that came over me. It was the drug my body produced, the neuro-chemical reaction. O god, what a high! I was lost in bliss, and completely without the help of any outside drugs. Just the ones I made myself. (Except for nicotine, which I learned to ingest at an early age, too).
And, after that voluptuous high, the fall was all the greater. The guilt, the shame, the humiliation. The unbelievable incongruity of this nice, caring, prayerful, good Christian boy with this dark, sensuous, pornographic demon who possessed him from time to time.
Over all the years, all the prayers, therapy, etc., it still didn't occur to me that I was, in fact, gay. Is this what it meant to be gay, what kind of a life was that? I didn't want to be gay (still don't, sometimes). I just want to be the nice, caring, prayerful, good Christian boy who's normal, with the nice, normal family.
So, marriage, children, stable job, very active in the church. It didn't go away. I was just running away from relationship. It was a problem with intimacy. It's just an activity to which I have habituated myself. Addiction, maybe. Oh, and then the Internet came along. OMG! All that stuff online. The drug I can produce myself, and no need to leave home, even. Well, every once in a while, on the road by myself, the trance sets in. I go looking, and well-trained to finding it.
Hours spent looking. Lies to cover up "why I'm so late." Excuses. Guilt. Shame.
It's all in my head, right? With courage, I can work through this, right? Guess again.
So, I finally come to terms with it in my 49th year. And now, I must come to terms with more than just being gay.
Even though I have broached the subject with myself before, once again I have come to the point of understanding that I am an addict. Oh, yes, I am gay. This is not another ploy to fool myself in that regard. But now I have come to see that gay is not something I chose, nor is it just all that filthy, dangerous, anonymous, sex; in rest rooms, and bushes, and parks, and bookstores.
My deeper self does want relationship, intimacy, companionship, and sex. Being gay is more than what I knew. And still, I hear the call and have the desire to be Christian. But wait, look! There are myriads of other gay Christians out there! I am not alone! Though difficult, the journey is one toward the desires of my heart, not just the wantonness of my gonads.
But addiction is there. I have come to believe that. I've seen how my behaviors, past and more present that I want to admit, are not about being gay. they are about lust, the drug, the high, the all-too-temporary release.
I have come to believe that I am out of control. Oh, not all the time. I can control this, manage this, keep a handle on this, put a lid on this. Then, the trance starts, the buzz, the chemicals that surge through my mind and body as I begin the search. I start looking for it. Wanting it to such a degree that judgment is suspended. There is nothing else. Fear of disease, arrest, humiliation, disaster, all melt into the back ground. I am an addict. And I want my drug.
Insane. Out-of-control. Putting myself, my family, my career, everything at risk. Serious risk. This is the dark, incongruous side of this nice, Christian boy. And still it lurks in me.
So, near the bottom of the pit, I must do something. But I can't control it. But I have come to believe that there is One who can restore me to sanity. The journey takes another very unexpected turn.
Shalom & Cheers, Joe.