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,
Sis

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

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.

Familial homophobia

Homophobia can take many forms, ranging from name-calling at the grocery store to being condemned to hell from the church pulpit, but nothing seems to be quite so painful as discrimination at the hands of one’s own family members.

Thursdays are typically my favorite day of the week. My aunt comes to work in our office, where we spend the day cooking a huge meal, laughing at off-color jokes, and catching up on family gossip. Sometimes we even invite friends and family to join us for lunch, which only adds to the enjoyment factor.

Honey started a new job right around the same time that I did, and I was elated recently when his schedule changed and permitted him to attend our weekly luncheon. I felt like it gave us a wonderful opportunity to show some of my family members that we are just as “normal” as they are and that homosexuality is nothing to be scared of. It was nice to watch some of my family members get to know the wonderful person that I share my life with and to see him actually enjoying their company.

My grandparents were due to eat with us today, and as an added bonus, they were supposed to bring my niece and nephew. When my aunt arrived this morning to begin the day, she reluctantly informed us that neither my grandparents or sister’s children would be coming. Dad pressured her for a reason and she finally revealed that my uber-religious brother-in-law didn’t want his children to be around Honey and I as a couple. It didn’t seem to matter that we never show affection towards one another in public or that my aunt explained to my sister that we “act like an old married couple.”

This turn of events really shouldn’t have surprised me given the history between my brother-in-law and myself, but it stung quite badly all the same. Almost as much as the time that he said that he didn’t want me kissing my niece and nephew because he didn’t know what kind of illnesses that I might be carrying (since all homosexuals are apparently disease-ridden).

I’ve never had any respect for him since that time, but I have tolerated him for the sake of spending time with my sister and her children. I have even spent the last three Christmas Eve’s at her house, even though I was so miserable last Christmas that after everyone had retired to their assigned rooms, I literally cried myself to sleep on the sofa. Their domestic bliss seemed so foreign to me, and I was terribly distressed over the fact that in order to spend the holiday with my family I had to spend it apart from the one person that I loved the most.

So, after hearing about this latest example of homophobic hysteria from my brother-in-law, my first reaction was to immediately stop having any contact with my sister’s family. I announced that I wouldn’t be attending Christmas at my sister’s house anymore and emailed my mother to tell her that I would not be attending the birthday party that she had planned for me tomorrow.

Then, I took a moment to think and decided to email my pastor for some much-needed advice. What I got was an exceptionally beautiful response about the importance of family, building memories, and having meaningful relationships. But there was one line in particular that really moved me…

Your sister’s children will grow up to come to their own conclusions and my bet is that they will lean in the direction of affirming the wonderful uncle they grew up loving and laughing with.

The very idea warms my soul.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!

Honey has a head full of thick, luxurious hair which he likes to keep cut very short. I often tease him about being a Chia Pet because his hair seems to grow straight out from his head, resulting in some type of white man’s afro in the span of 3-4 weeks.

Karen was surprised the other day when I mentioned that he used to have long hair when he was a child. I know this because of the plethora of pictures that he has produced during our time together. I promised to post a photo for her, so without further ado, here’s the little fellow who grew up to become my valentine:

honey