In the summer of 1975, I went to the Cincinnati Bible College. I went there right out of high school. I took some summer school courses to see how I would handle Bible college and to see if there was anything that I felt a calling to do. That's what I kept telling myself, and I did develop an interest in Old Testament history. I was hooked on the Old Covenant and wondering if I might really be Jewish :^) It was all just a distraction though.
What I really wanted was help, love and God to speak to me. I had been praying since I was 12 that He would make me anything but what I was - what I am, and I wanted guidance from someone - anyone - to help me. I knew who Jesus was. I knew who God was. I prayed to them all the time; but I really did not know who they were in the deeper sense of it, what it meant to be saved or how His grace had made everything I was worried about unimportant. I was deeply confused.
I had been a Christian since I was 14 years old. I remember thinking at the time, "what have I gotten myself into" and there was really no joy in my conversion other than salvation from the fires of Hell. Some of this was due to my own ignorance, but I was certain that I would never make it as a Christian if God did not cure my same sex attractions. I could not understand how He could let one of His own suffer through such desires and not help. It was making me progressively more angry as each day went by. I began asking the question that Paul says we are not supposed to ask in Romans 9;
"who are you oh man who answers back to God; does the thing molded say to the molder, 'why did you make me this way'"
In the fall of 1975, I got a roommate. His name was Ken. He was from Cleveland and he was not like me...in any way. He was not like anybody at the school. He was a Catholic. He was a Charismatic. And he was very laid back. He worried about nothing. We were polar opposites. It drove me up a wall.
So I stressed about that. I stressed about being gay. I stressed about my studies and I was gradually freaking out about the intensity of my desires. I was not well. This went on until the fall semester of my sophomore year, 1976. That's the year I quit and transferred to Abilene Christian University. January of 1977. It was my intention to go there, take advantage of their free counseling program and get a liberal arts degree in political science and I did all these things. I was hoping that their counseling program could fix me - make me straight, or at least help me understand how to deal with this desire.
They tested me. They gave me a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). They dissected my psyche with every blunt testing instrument available at the time. They determined I was deeply depressed, a bit angry (understatement) and borderline suicidal. I was all those things, but I was dealing with it very well. I refused the meds that they wanted to prescribe because it would have taken parental consent and I did not want to drag Dennis and Laurie into this for reasons I will not elaborate on now.
I immediately went into counseling. I told them what was at the center of my depression - that I has gay - and they immediately set me up with someone doing research in conversion therapy. This kind of thing was in it's infancy in the 70's and this particular doctor was using something called Visual Imagery. It involved the use of hypnosis, biofeedback and what amounted to soft core porn to try turning me from the dark side if I might be so bold.
It did not work. I did this through the spring and fall of 1977 with no real results. It did not help that I did not trust my doctor. I had a sense that he was a pervert in his own right. I was never sure what variety or even if its was true, but he kind of freaked me out. In retrospect, I think I would have been better off with a woman as my counselor, but even with that, I do not think it would have worked.
So I quit.
By that time, I was still angry at God, but I had discovered a way to calm myself and adapt. I continued the biofeedback on my own and then there was the pot that I had discovered in the summer of 1977 with the help of my friend Brian. It all worked to relieve the suicidal tendencies and depression.
I had a small group of friends. We were stoners for the most part, though we were not beyond the occasional enjoyment of beer. As for classes, I was doing well. No worries there.
However, there was a difference. I was not dating anyone (of course) and I did not want to. What was the point? I liked women and enjoyed their company as friends, but I would certainly never be able to marry one. The idea of straight sex put me off. It seemed unnatural if I am completely honest about it. Faking it seemed out of the question.
People wondered about me in that regard I am sure, but no one ever said anything to me. Maybe it was because I could be intimidating in a serious discussion or maybe it was because it never occurred to my friends that I could be anything but straight. It just never came up in, an out loud type way.
I plowed through the spring and summer of 1978 in a self induced fog. When the fall semester came around, my group of friends sort of began changing. New people entered the picture that I did not know. One of them was someone that lived down the hall from me in off campus housing. I began seeing him regularly everywhere I went and it seemed odd. He would turn up in the library restroom when I went in to take a leak. He would show up at my table at lunch. He was regularly with my group of friends even though we did not know each other that well. It was like having a stalker.
His name was Robert and we became 'very close friends' for almost a year and a half.
It started like this. I had a habit of taking in a couple of early classes and then going out for a jog while everyone else went to chapel. Running helped me with the depression (endorphins). It gave me some good exercise and it got me in the best physical condition of my life. After my run, I would return to my dorm and take a shower. This was off campus housing. My room had it's own shower and I did not have a roommate. It was bliss for so many reasons. Lunch would always follow.
Anyway, one day my stalker tracked me back to my room. As I was exiting the shower, there was a knock on the door and I answered. I was standing there in nothing but a towel, still a bit wet. I opened the door and there was Robert. He was grinning from ear to ear. He looked me up and down. I felt like some kind of sandwich. I was obviously what was for lunch. He pushed me back into the room, closed and locked the door behind us, then he grabbed me and kissed me for what seemed like a century. His clothes came off. The towel came off. We wrestled and it went on from there.
This is the point where, in the old movies you would get fireworks or the train/tunnel scene. You know what I'm talking about. I will not tell you which one of us was the pitcher or the catcher. I will tell you that we were both capable in any position we chose to play. Sometimes it was a matter of who won the wrestling match, but I digress.
Two men in 1978 would probably not spend much time courting. We could do things together socially and in public without raising suspicion as long as we avoided physical contact, but in 1978, two men were not supposed to be too affectionate with each other. It was worse than inappropriate.
I do not think that we were ever in love in the classic sense. We never moved in together or made any serious commitment, but we did enjoy our relationship and each others company. Everything was good for the most part. As time went on though, it became a relationship of convenience.
Robert and I did not have much in common. He was a sociology major. He was African American, about 5'10" and built like a wrestler. You could bounce a quarter off his butt. It was a beautiful thing and I did that once. Physically, he was very well equipped and in excellent condition. Very low body fat. He was beautiful, but he was also kind of stupid. This always worked to my advantage, but he would get even with me. He was bisexual. He would date women to piss me off and also expand his own horizons.
Robert and I ended it in the spring of 1979 when I graduated. He had two more years left. He wanted to get married and have kids. As it turns out, he did. I caught up with him in, I think it was 2006. I was on Facebook for about 90 days and looked him up. He had a daughter by his first wife. He ended up divorced because of a man he was seeing on the side. He married again. There were no children this time, but again there was another man and another divorce. He married a third time to a woman that came with her own family. She was also disabled. I do not think their relationship had a sexual component, but I do know that he had yet another man on the side. Robert seems never to have been able to quell his desire for men.
Robert was also a deacon in his church.
Life on the down low. I am glad I chose not to put myself through that. I'm not sure it's any worse though, than loneliness in personal terms. And if you are wondering, my "mad at God" phase finally ended around 1994. Several things happened to me that could only be described as a personal divine intervention. A desire rose in heart to go home. I pursued that. I started praying and it happened. I got a job transfer and moved back to Iowa. My life immediately started improving. By 1998, I was back in church and teaching Sunday school. I still do not know why I am what I am, but I know God loves me and I have come to believe that He wanted me as I am, because He never did 'fix' me. This will be hard for some to accept. If you were me though, you would have too.
There were many things here that I have left out like how I ended up back in Cincinnati in grad school in 1980, how I dropped out and went to work and even who I worked for. That will have to be for another time. I will say this. There was never another in my life that I was sexually involved with. In May of 1979, I began a period of celibacy that has lasted until this very day. After that time, I began to withdraw from almost everything. Work became my therapy. I did not darken the door of a church again until about 1994.
My life has been weird. I have learned many things about myself and others. It's hard for many to understand how one seemingly immutable fact about one's self can change everything and how graceless Christians can be when they find out about it. Praise the Lord though, that has changed. For the first time in my life, I feel like the church has become a safe place and a refuge.
I am different too; resurrected in some way that I cannot explain. It's more than just a maturity that I was lacking. It seems like God has actually been listening to me and doing things I never dreamed He would do. Maybe I was just not paying attention.