Did molestation make me gay?

I used to think what happened to me when I was a child was what made me attracted to males. I blamed my uncle for my sexual orientation for many years, and while I definitely believe what happened shaped my sexual interests, I am not so convinced of the connection anymore.

Those encounters are my first memories of sex, and they greatly altered my views of affection and intimacy. As a counselor once told me, the guilt the victim shoulders is because the attention and sexual activity feels good even though it shouldn’t.

Because I was too young to understand what was happening completely and enjoyed the attention, I didn’t want it to stop. When my parents found out what was going on, I was upset because I knew it wouldn’t happen again. It didn’t.

From that point, I acted out sexually with boys whenever I had the chance. There were only two that I did anything with, but it went on for several years. It was always just fooling around to me. I never felt emotionally attached or like I had a crush on either of them. Even though I know it is normal for kids to mess around while they are learning about sex, I have had a lot of guilt over the years about those encounters.

There were guys that I did have crushes on who I fantasized about incessantly, but I never acted on those impulses. I was too scared and also too ignorant to really understand my sexual inclinations. These guys were like idols to me. I watched the way they walked and talked, admired and imagined their bodies, and rarely ever said a word to them. I had them placed so high on a pedestal that they were unattainable.

As I grew older and began to figure out what it meant to be gay, the crushes continued. I fell really hard for a couple of different guys my age, but, again, I was too scared to act on it out of fear of rejection. We would have sleepovers and spend as much time together as possible, but nothing physical ever happened. In my juvenile mind, the guy would be my boyfriend. Both times, the parents of the guy stopped the friendship because they grew uncomfortable with all the time we were spending together. Both times, I about lost my mind from the grief.

When I finally grew up a little, I met a much older man who took advantage of me in many ways. I was ignorant and inexperienced, so I poured everything into a clearly dysfunctional relationship. When that relationship ended, I began another with a man several years my senior. It was also dysfunctional for many reasons.

Looking back, I realize I was substituting sex for affection. If a guy liked me, I felt like I was supposed to sleep with him. Friendship needed to progress to sex in order to mean anything. This was obviously a direct result of what happened with my uncle. Sex equals friendship equals affection equals love. It wasn’t enough to just hang out and have a good time; I needed them to prove they liked me enough, and the ultimate expression of that was sex.

Over the years, I have changed that line of thinking. I met someone 9 years ago who cherished me from day one. He didn’t expect me to show my appreciation for his company through sex (even though I wanted to). He has been patient and kind and anything but a user. I am one of the lucky ones.

My uncle never faced the consequences for his actions 35 years ago, but I know, one way or another, he will. He denies it happened now, even though he admitted it when it was first revealed. I am a forgiving person, but I refuse to consider forgiving him until he admits it and accepts responsibility for his actions.

I said all of that to say this: It would be easy to assume what happened when I was a kid made me gay, but that is oversimplifying it. I know plenty of gay people who weren’t molested, and I know plenty of straight people who were.

Regardless, I am what I am. Whether I was born this way or made this way, I didn’t have a say in the matter. I know being molested shaped my views of sex and intimacy, but those are things I have struggled with and continue to work on. It makes more sense that I was born with this orientation, and the sexual abuse was just a terrible thing that happened to me along the way.

After the glitter fades

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

Soon after we started attending our church a few years ago, I remember talking to a couple of my coworkers about how wonderful the people were and how much we were enjoying our time with them on Sunday mornings. As I heaped praise on what seemed to me at the time to be as close to perfect as a church could possibly get, one of the coworkers (who had himself previously been a pastor) smiled knowingly and told me I was in the “honeymoon phase.” His words have rang true so many times over the past three years.

It is very easy to only see the surface, the cover of the book. It’s just as easy to become disillusioned when the new wears off and the gritty, unrefined reality of a situation is exposed, but it’s bound to happen sooner or later. It didn’t take long for me to realize that much like any other church, mine was far from perfect.

Human relationships are always complicated – whether in the workplace or the church pew, and there were many Sundays when the tension seemed heavier than air. And, I regrettably admit, there were many times when I considered quitting altogether. Thankfully, I persevered.

Now, many months later, I’m starting to believe that these are the times that are truly the most rewarding – when we stop looking at the world and ourselves through rose-tinted glasses, get our hands dirty, and do what needs to be done in order to survive. I’m witnessing a spirit of renewal – both in the congregation and within myself.

It isn’t always easy to make the right decisions or choose the right paths, but with God’s help and guidance, I know our church isn’t only going to survive… we’re gonna shine!

Later letter

Tucked neatly inside the birthday card my sister handed me on Saturday was a smaller envelope, sealed and marked “Later Letter.” I looked at her with a quizzical expression and asked what it meant. “It’s a letter to read later,” she explained. I tore it open as soon as I got a moment to myself, uncertain if the contents would be good or bad. Here’s what it said:

Dear Brian,

As I thought back over the years, life has dealt us some hard blows, hasn’t it? It doesn’t seem to be getting any easier, either. Sometimes I wonder where I’m gonna wind up.

Since I turned 30 it seems my life is changing along with my body and mind. LOL! But one thing that will never change (unless it gets stronger) is my love for you! I am sorry for anything I’ve ever done to hurt you!

I’m trying to raise my kids the way we were raised, and things have changed so much since we were kids, it’s hard to know how sometimes. But I never meant to make you feel like I am “holier than thou” or “self-righteous.” Please don’t ever feel that way.

You are the best brother I could ever have asked for and I wouldn’t trade you for anybody in the world! My only prayer is for our family to make it to heaven!!

I am sorry for the pain you have suffered throughout life. I would take every pain from you if I could. But if we can only make it, I know God will do just that for you!

I don’t know how to handle alot of situations and may not always do it right, but please don’t hold it against me. I want you to know you are my best friend (except for Hubby) and I want to spend eternity in heaven with you.

We’ve only got one chance to do this, Brian! Let’s give it our very best! We’ve been through alot in our lifetime, but it will be worth it all to hear Him say, “Well done!”

I love you,

Sweet, huh? It’s amazing how the years can mend relationships and bring people closer together.

I did it!

Remember when I wrote about the lady at Walmart that I was interested in becoming friends with? Well, after all this time, I finally had the perfect opportunity arise so that we might be able to get beyond our typical banter in the checkout lane.

This afternoon, I stopped in to pick up something for dinner and noticed that she was working. This was the first time that I had seen her there in a few weeks, and although her lane was quite busy, I thought “what the heck” and waited. She noticed me well before I was even close to the register and started making small talk. Once the customers in front of me were gone and she began scanning my items, I asked her what she had been up to, which started a rather lengthy conversation about her previous day.

Seeing that other customers were needing attention and fearing that I was going to let another opportunity pass me by, I asked if she liked to go bowling. She laughed and began poking fun at herself for not being very skillful at the game, even joking that we just wanted to watch her make a fool of herself. I told her that we like to go bowling from time to time with friends, but only because we enjoy it… definitely not because we are any good at it. (Sidenote: Wii bowling does NOT improve your abilities in real life – a lesson I learned the hard way last weekend.)

Seeing that she was at least open to the idea of doing something, I told her that I enjoyed talking with her and that maybe we could go out for dinner sometime. She reacted with much enthusiasm and offered her phone number. We exchanged full names and digits and parted ways assuring one another that we would get in touch.

So, thanks to all of you guys that commented on my earlier post and gave me pointers on how to handle this situation. I’ll keep you posted on how things develop.

Picture board

I have a cork board hanging beside my desk at work that is covered with photos of friends, family, places I’ve been on vacation, and my partner. It has pictures of my parents, my sister and I when we were very young children, photos of the children that she went on to have, and even little sayings that have spoken to me over the years.

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.” – Ghandi
“The person willing to give up freedom for security deserves neither.” – A modern take on Benjamin Franklin’s quote.
“Where governments fear the people, you have liberty. When the people fear the government, you have tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

I also included a lyric from a song by American-Indian artist, Jana, which always reminds me of exactly why I’m at work.

So be aware of all the things you want
Prepare to pay for what you need
Nothing in the world is free to take
That’s the price of life we have to pay.

There’s even a slip of paper that I got out of a fortune cookie that says, “Stop searching forever. Happiness is right next to you.” And, yes, I was sitting right next to Honey when I opened it.

I recently printed the verses from 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13 and posted them on the wall beside the board, as a constant reminder of the importance of love.

I think that’s the main reason I enjoy this picture board so much; when I’m stressed out or just tired and ready to go home, I can glance over to see all the faces and places that represent love to me. And then, in some strange way, I realize that I am already home.

Experiencing God through human relationships

I know well-meaning Christians who often remind me, “God’s love for you is better than any love you might find in a human relationship.” While I believe this is true in an ultimate and profound sense, putting it this way seems to set up a false dichotomy. A statement more in sync with the drift of the New Testament might go something like this: “God’s love for us is expressed and experienced mainly through the medium of human relationships.”

Wesley Hill, a Christian man struggling with sexuality and celibacy

Making a new friend?

I’ve decided to ask a woman out on a date. Not a romantic date, just a friendly date. The funny/strange thing is that the only encounters I have ever had with this lady are in Walmart – where she scans and bags the items that I am buying.

friendshipYou know how you meet someone and instantly feel like you have a connection and that you could be great friends if given the opportunity? That’s the way I feel about Jenna. Maybe we have old souls that were acquainted in a previous life or something. She always has the biggest smile when she sees us come up to the register and she likes to chit-chat… about how high prices are getting, about her cats, about the musical card that I picked out for a friend’s birthday. Conversation comes naturally and easily – just like it should with friends.

While going through her checkout lane this evening, I grabbed two Hershey’s bars – one with almonds and one without. After she had scanned and passed them to me, I asked her which was her favorite. She pointed to the plain chocolate one, so I handed it to her and told her it was hers. She squealed with delight and immediately turned to tell the cashier next to her what had just transpired.

I know virtually nothing about this woman. I figure she is in her 40’s. She moved here from a much larger city that is several hours away. While I’m not sure what her feelings are on homosexuality, she seems to totally understand that Honey and I are a couple. She even asks where my “buddy” is when I’m alone.

I would like to see if Jenna wants to go out for dinner or something so that we can see if a friendship can develop, but I’m worried about coming across as creepy. I mean, if I were in her shoes, it might freak me out a bit if two guys asked me to accompany them to a restaurant. I’d be worried about ending up in the river before the night was over.

It’s interesting how making a new friend can resemble dating. You typically do the same things with a new friends that you might do on a romantic excursion – like going to dinner or watching a movie – before progressing to more “intimate” activities like long telephone conversations or visits to one another’s homes. And just like with romantic dating, friend dating can go really well or really badly.

So, how do I approach this in a manner so that Jenna knows I am simply interested in making a new friend?