When Side B is the New Ex-gay

Sometimes, your heart starts to break, and you don’t know why. You catch yourself emotionally limping through life, or angry and explosive at the drop of a dime, or feeling like a small, wounded child, and not understanding why.

Such has been the case recently. I’ve been struggling with very deep feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal – feelings that have made writing, rest, and engaging with other people in productive, peaceful ways very difficult. When I finally noticed these powerful feelings, I sat with them, trying to understand their origin. In a moment of clarity, I suddenly said to myself, I know these feelings. I’ve felt them before. 

It’s taken the past few month of processing and writing about my recent fallout with Side B (the conviction that while a gay orientation is not in and of itself sinful, expressions of that orientation in sex or gay marriage are sinful) to unearth a subterranean monster of overwhelming hurt, guilt, and rage. As is often the case, such huge emotions can influence our behaviors and thought patterns, but it can take time for us to see them clearly.

I realized that the story I’ve been living recently is a story I’ve already walked, many years ago.

I haven’t talked yet about my past in the ex-gay world on this blog. One, because it’s a hefty issue that requires a great amount of energy on my part to discuss, and two, the internal torment and trauma I felt as a teenager living in the bowels of the ex-gay culture is very hard for me to revisit. I fully intend to take a long, steady look at my experience in the ex-gay world at some point on this blog, but only when I am ready.

While I don’t want to delve fully into the topic, I can draw you a sketch. I can give you a road map of what my journey in the ex-gay world looked like.

It started with a blinding, overwhelming joy. The joy a quadriplegic must feel when a doctor reveals to him that, by some miracle of modern science, his condition is curable, and he can walk again. I was told that there was a cure for my same sex attractions, for this demon that had made my life unbearable in the already unbearable worlds of middle school and high school. “You mean there’s a cure?”, I said to myself, “You mean I can be fixed? I can become straight? I don’t have to be like this? I don’t have to feel broken or like a monster any more?”

And this claim of change was backed up by many testimonies. The leaders of the movement all professed that they, themselves, had experienced transformation from gay to straight, and they often had the spouses and children to prove it.

This is it, I thought, this is the answer. This is how I make my life bearable. These people say God can cure me. 

The ex-gay world teaches that same sex attractions are a deficit of masculinity – that men are deprived of affection and love from same sex peers and parents. I latched onto that message and, like Pinocchio, dove into the ex-gay world on a quest to become a real boy.

What I discovered there was terrifying. One by one, the leaders started to fall like stars as they were caught in sex scandals or admitted that they were still attracted to the same sex – still gay. I didn’t find stories of victory or change in the other ex-gays, either. I saw anguish. I saw loneliness. None of us were changing.

After three years, I realized the truth: I wasn’t going to change, and I didn’t know how much longer I could waste my life away fighting day in, day out, for a future heterosexuality that might never exist. The people around me weren’t changing either.  The cure was a lie, I realized. I had bought the snake oil. I wasn’t going to become a real boy.

It felt like my whole world shattered. I couldn’t be cured – I had been lied to. Looking back on that 19 year old, I’m proud of him for choosing to walk away from the ex-gay path that was killing him and trying trying to find a better road, a brighter life, even if that meant walking into the pitch black darkness of uncertainty. But I also realize that the shattering, and the walking away, caused a very deep trauma.

Fast forward. I’m now at the doors of another community: the Side B community, and they are offering another promise on God’s behalf: that joy within celibacy is sustainable, maintainable, and achievable for anyone who reaches for it. Like the ex-gays, they offered the promise that, if someone is faithful, tries hard enough, and does the right things, a life of sustainable celibacy will be theirs.

Like years before, I felt that rush of hope. I felt that hope that I could find a workable, sustainable, life-affirming sexual ethic for my life.

And this community has its leaders, too – people who live lives of abundant, overflowing connection. Unlike the ex-gay leaders, I don’t think their lives are deceptive. They are honest about the pain of celibacy, but celebrate the great joy of it, too.

I entered the Side B community with high hopes. I didn’t expect it to be easy – I knew celibacy was an enormous sacrifice – but I hoped it wouldn’t be defeating and destructive like my experience in the ex-gay world. Like several years before, though, I slowly became disillusioned. I watched many people lead anguished lives of compartmentalization or promiscuity, never attaining a joy that makes vocation sustainable. Many of the leaders were able to find genuine love with celibate partners, but I realized celibate partnership, while potentially very good, would hardly be workable for many people under similar circumstances. Nine times out of ten, I watched Side B people jump ship before their lives went dark.

In the same way that the promise of orientation change fell apart in my hands, the promise of sustainable and life-affirming celibacy for everyone who pursued it fell apart, too. I never believed it would be easy, but discipline is self defeating if it ends up killing you. I was left feeling crushed, helpless, betrayed and lied to all over again. I was left feeling like the old wound from the ex-gay world that had gone so deep was re-opened. Apparently, we always walk the same roads, but I can’t walk this one again.

Yes, I’m only 25. I’m a young dude, and time changes things. That’s true. Maybe Side B will be more sustainable when I am older, wiser, less hormonal and less driven for sexual and romantic connection. I’ve heard some older guys say that the desire becomes more manageable, whereas others say it doesn’t.

But the reality is that three times in my life now, Ex-gay and Side B have been the catalysts for levels of pain that very nearly took my life. First, when the conflict I was feeling as a post-ex-gay was so intense I seriously contemplated killing myself to make it stop, and developed a nasty cutting habit to compensate for the horrible shame I felt. Second, when my first attempt at Side B pushed me close to the edge of violent despair that made me contemplate taking my life again. Third, and most dramatic, was in the wake of my failed celibate partnership, when my beliefs were shattered and the pain pushed me into a life of self destruction I never thought I would ever live.

It would be correct if I said I can’t take that risk again, to protect myself from entering such a dangerous place. It would be more honest and accurate to say that I am just straight up scared. I’m terrified of going through that again, and I’m afraid of the possibility that, a fourth time around, I might not make it.

Right now, though, in this season of my life, I am happy. I look at myself in the mirror and I love myself:  gay, 6’1”, a bit bearish, bearded, tatted, dyslexic and all. I feel good in my skin for the first time in . . . ever. I feel good because I’ve stopped fighting. I’m not Side B. I’m not Ex-gay. I’m just Stephen – a man with many questions, a man who is loved and saved by Christ, a man who gets to call the God of the universe Father, a man who finds other men soul-meltingly beautiful, a man who walks with the knowledge that – in this moment – he is enough. And I don’t want to compromise that.

It’s now time for the the small print: Side B people will accuse me of telling their story, of painting an overly negative picture of Side B as a whole, of aiding the liberal progressive bias against celibacy. On and on and on. But I speak only for myself, my journey, and my own observations. If people have stories that differ from mine, they should share them. The world needs to hear.

But I will keep being honest about my own. I remind myself of the words of Aslan, the great lion from Narnia:

“Child” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

63 responses to “When Side B is the New Ex-gay

    • I know you! Haha.

      Moving out beyond the ex-gay road I find myself called to celibacy as well. Tonight I spoke about it… deep stuff man! Wow!

      However, despite the calling, I am committed to be an ambassador of Christ. Thanx for sharing!

      • why would the god of the universe obsess about anyones sex life? or ordain a belief system that promotes ignorance and hate ? looks man made to me

  1. I am so sorry that you’ve been through all of this, Stephen, but I’m so grateful for your honesty – you are making people like me understand just a little bit better how things are for you and others like you. You’re in my prayers, and it’s wonderful to hear that you’re happy at the moment and you’re embracing your savedness-by-Christ’s-grace as well as accepting yourself as you are. Thank you for your beautiful writing – I really appreciate your words.

  2. Stephen, you have been on a very difficult road, and it’s time to find the long-lasting happiness you seek and deserve. You are a beloved child of God who loves you the way you are. Don’t ever forget that.

  3. The best I have ever read stated by David Williams from Britians\’s Got Talent is “I think it’s all about falling in love with the person and that is overlooked, really. I hate it when people confess’ or reveal their sexuality and also things can change people over the years. So if it about the person but I also think it goes beyond that. You don’t just fall in love with someone’s body, do you? You fall in love with someone’s soul and heart and brain.”
    He is a recent dad of a baby boy with Lara Stone.

  4. I’m finding myself in that dark place you describe when all your beliefs fall apart; when everything you were promised turns to dust. Reading your blogs is just about the only thing that gives me hope right now. Honestly, you may be saving a life here. Thank you.

  5. I appreciate your post and your honesty. Personally I’m a firm believer of no sex before marriage. Unlike some people I believe that the marriage covenant between a same sex couple is just as legit to God…because God has always been a God of covenant. I’m not asking anyone to agree with me, and I’m glad you have come to a place of knowing who you are by our heavenly father but I believe sex was God’s design to bind two people in a life long commitment. So, while i’m all for being outside of side B, I’m not for promiscuity outside of marriage.

    • In which case, you should not have sex outside of marriage. But I’m pretty confident that we are each called to live our own lives and not be worried about whether anyone else is living up to the standards we think of as “universal truths”. What you are compelled to do is your business–that does not give it any sort of weight in someone else’s life and on their journey.

      • I’m not being pushy. But Christians are suppose to hold to biblical commands as much as possible and in courage other Christians to do so as well. Biblical understanding on homosexuality has changes for many people, but biblical monogamy within marriage really hasn’t changed. It’s frustrating to me when Gay Christians are given a free pass on all sin, we are of one body, following one Christ and should abstain from sin a much as possible.

      • Christians are called to follow the bible as much as possible and to encourage other Christians to do the same. Biblical understanding of homosexuality has changed. But the biblical understanding of sex being designed to strengthen the bonds of marriage haven’t changed. No one wants to hear that. But it’s something God designed for our good. It makes me sad when I see christians giving up on this and joining the rest of the world in promiscuity.

  6. Having gone through my own long journey with all of this, I just want to tell you what a beautiful, if painful, thing it is to see you bare your soul like this. You’re one brave man, and I pray soon you find the peace you crave, the same peace others take for granted.

    • ditto from me. my dark tunnel of de/re-construction began a year ago. it’s all on my own blog. find your own way. and i look forward to your beautiful writing – VERY readable and clear in your intended meanings.

  7. A friend pointed me to this blog. Stephen, I’m a 60 year old gay man who has my own story of the ex-gay ministries and the attempts at celibacy. It sounds like you are deciding to just be who you are and to live your life as you believe it should be lived. There is no right or wrong here, in my mind. I personally just don’t buy the Side B nonsense. It’s just a less harsh way of being an “ex-gay”. If God created me as I am, a gay man, why would he put the condition on me that “you can look but can’t touch” (which, basically, is what both the ex-gay movement and the Side B movement is saying).

    I’ll be the first to admit I abused the gift of sex many times in my you adulthood acting out promiscuously. But I have found what the words “making love” are really about. Sex, in a loving, committed, monogamous relationship is just one part of what constitutes a relationship, a partnership, a marriage. A relationship I was in ended somewhat recently. I am grieving that loss. There was a time I would have run out and ignore the pain with casual, meaningless sex. I don’t need to do that anymore. I won’t even say I’m being celibate. I’m just choosing not to have sex now unless it is with someone I am in love with and striving to build a life together with.

  8. History is full of examples where the common religious wisdom and the “moral majority” clearly were wrong. I’m so sorry for the pain you’ve experienced. I was compelled to write a long and supportive comment that attempts to highlight the source of the religious conflict and attacks you have gone through. I hope it helps in some small way.

    From every religion and church throughout the history of Man, there have always been just two types of faithful followers: One type makes God very small, illogical, petty and mean – even stupid – in order to defend the notion that some particular religious text or teachings are the literal word of God Himself (even though the text of the Bible is contradictory and in many places clearly wrong). The other type of follower believes that God is greater than anything that can be conceived by the mind of man – greater than any preachers’ sermon, any particular church, or the passages of any text written or story told by any man.

    The former group believes the Bible is literal. The latter group believes God is NOT stupid.

    If God truly created and knows everything, knows every word written on the scroll of your life before you’ve even lived your first day of it (Psalms), then there actually isn’t any reason to believe He would punish you for just being you – no more than He would punish Eve for using the free will He gave her, to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge which He put in the Garden of Eden. Either God knew what he was doing, and we (including men who wrote the Bible’s stories) have simply allowed our “small God” perspective to get in the way of this truth – OR – God really is an idiot who had absolutely no idea what he was doing, and the Bible is totally correct and literal.

    We’re all here to choose between one or the other – between big God or small God.

    The Bible, by the way, also says it’s OK to own slaves and kill them, sell your own child, and execute women who have been raped (if they didn’t cry out).

    Is the Bible literally the Word of God, a pure transcription of His pure and unadulterated infinite wisdom? It’s OK to say no, and still believe in God. It’s OK to believe in a God that wouldn’t create you just to punish you, and who would give you an entire universe from which to learn and grow. It’s OK to reject anyone trying to force you to believe in a small and petty God, and choose instead to believe in a greater God that is infinitely intelligent and wise instead. It’s OK to read the Bible as a collection of stories instead of a literal dictation directly from the Creator of Everything. And it’s OK to believe you can be different, be the person you feel in your heart you should be, and be a good person, and make your life a charitable one, and love anyone you want – any way you want – and live according to the Golden Rule and other virtues, all at the same time.

    You just need to believe in a big God, instead of little men.

    • The Blog post definitely moved me, but so did your comment. What you said is dead on.. I can’t think of a better way to put it. I know way too many Christians who try to push the small God idea and it drives me crazy. I don’t believe God would be so cruel as to hate any minority for any reason. He created and loves us all.. he is a very big God.

  9. Dude. So with you. I don’t even know what else to say except “what you said”. I could have written that myself when I was 27 (and maybe if I look back on my Xanga blog, I might discover that I did indeed write that). I totally know what it’s like to feel that level of betrayal – particularly with the ex-gay world. I was fortunate enough to have met my husband not long after I removed myself from the ex-gay world, so my foray into the Side B world was pretty short – and I think it’s good that it was, because I don’t know how I would have handled a second (and certainly not a third!) major betrayal like the ones you’re describing. A {{{BIG HUG}}} to you, my friend.

  10. Celibacy is quite possible for those who have the gift. But most Christians don’t have that gift and calling. God bless you, Stephen. And by the way — you *are* a real boy. :)

  11. Wow. This is beautiful, authentic, and so very much the story of many I know. Thank you for sharing. If you ever are interested, I would love to share the documentary that I’ve been a part of for many years–it’s the stories of three gay and lesbian people of (conservative) faith wrestling with exactly what you have wrestled with. It’s not everyone’s story, but it is theirs, and it’s pretty powerful. You can see if there’s a screening near you at http://www.sgamovie.com. And again, thanks.

  12. Beautifully said— thank you for your honesty and willingness to be vulnerable after having endured so much hurt already. I am so glad you survived those “almosts”–and that you are here today to tell your story. I pray you find peace and love and joy in your life. :) <3

  13. Stephen! Thank you for the courage you show in sharing your story so vulnerably. It breaks my heart to hear of the pain you’ve experienced, and all I can say is that I’m grateful you’ve held onto Christ through all the turmoil. You’re loved, Stephen!

  14. Speaking as someone a bit older and hopefully more experienced, if not wiser, I can tell you two things:

    First, be who God made you. Very few people are well-suited for celibacy – and that’s because God made humans with an innate requirement for intimate relationships. After six days of “and God saw it, and it was good”, we get “It is not good that man should be alone.” Celibacy is not healthy – and it’s not a good thing. Remember, that if what we’re told in the scriptures about God is true, your situation is not a surprise to Him, and He has been working on you to make you into the image of Christ. Whether same-sex attraction is caused by nature or circumstance, God is in control of all of it. Instead of praying that God give you the grace to endure a terminally bad situation, try praying for God to supply all your needs, including the need for intimacy, in a way that is consistent with His plan for your life — and then don’t look for reasons to reject whatever He brings your way in order to fulfill those needs.

    Second, always remember that to get to Aslan (and Narnia), one has to go through the closet, not stay in it.

  15. Stephen, what a great post. Raw and genuine, your story mirrors a great deal of what many of us have been through. Keep on writing, dyslecix boy (terrible I know, I couldn’t stop myself).

  16. Wow. Thank you.

    I don’t know that I’d say this is beautiful. It’s beautifully-written, you have a beautiful soul, but what isn’t beautiful is the pain. I came out the day before my 21st birthday – August 1, 1985. I have seen a lot more than I ever wanted to see, in an much less forgiving time. People far less brave than you have been, pushed into a toxic “I want nothing to do with God” world. It was tough, watching it all. People sleeping, drinking, drugging themselves to death through the 80s and 90s. I wanted that same family, love, kids, etc., and had to numb myself to forget that it wasn’t an option. So I relate (as I think so many of us do) to your story. Where you stand out is in the fact that you refuse to walk away from the one who loves you most.

    If I’ve learned anything over so many years, it’s that there’s a lot of grey matter out there. I’m a Side B poser because I haven’t dated in 5 years. I will not be with another person outside of a committed relationship. At that point, I’d head on over to Side A. The hormones do calm down over the years (for me at least they did). Hanging on to your moral compass plays a big part in that. I suspect that with time and processing, you might come to a place that, should you be blessed enough to find someone who’ll complement and walk the path of God in this world with you, that love, as it always does, will have the final say.

    Celibacy is a beautiful calling from God, if it’s true. But what you’re describing isn’t a calling. It’s a sort of prison. I don’t disparage those who have followed the path and have found a home there. And are happy. But to continue to search and to follow a different path to God is beautiful as well. It’s that grey matter thing. Sometimes I think that trust and faith in God really comes to the fore in all of the uncertainties.

    You’re incredibly brave, and thoughtful, and others do have your back – in prayer and in other ways – as you work your way through this.

    Take care.. Bright Blessings.

  17. As a passionately straight 74-year-old woman married to the same man till he died a month before our 46th anniversary, I appreciate so much your beautiful writing and am so sorry for all your pain. Knowing how much I am attracted to men, how could I not understand people attracted to the same gender! I thank you for helping me to continue to grow in understanding. I was somehow unaware of “Side B” except as it applies to ordained clergy, which I believe is totally wrong and horrendous. Those who try not to “practice” homosexuality in order to be accepted in ministry are, in my opinion, like battered wives in their relationship to the church.

  18. oh man, you so need to connect with Progressive Christians. enuff with the guilt and crap of the horsefeathers and unicorn horns you have been being peddled. check out The Emerging Church on Facebook, Unfundamentalist Christians, John Shore, Bishop Shelby Spong’s writings on sexuality. i have SOOOOO been there done that (before you were born!!!!) and now at 55 i realize just how bankrupt all the old crap was. since connecting with Progressive Christians i have come to see that there really IS something worthwhile in the Jesus talk and walk. and it has nothing to do with celibacy or becoming someone other than the wonderful person that is your destiny, surrounded by love.

  19. Have you been living the lives of “other people”? Have you been living THEIR expectations? Have you done your OWN study of the Word, or are you basing your life on other’s belief systems? If you were born who you are, and God knew it, is it OK with Him for you to be in a monogamous relationship? You have to find these answers for yourself, and not live other people’s lives. You have already done that with Ex-gay therapy. You have seen how others living the celibate life style are lonely, isolated, and fearful. Fear that God will hate them again. They become rigid, become obsessive-compulsive in their Religious lifestyle so they will not do or think something that will anger God, and have Him take away His approval of them. Is this a life for you? You have to decide, have to make a choice, but it has to be based on what YOU KNOW, not living someone else’s life.

    • I think when you are a people pleaser (I still am to a certain extent), it makes it more challenging to live your own life. When I was growig up in the church I was bombarded with all the sermons and church movies that Jesus was coming any day, better get ready and if you’re not, you’ll be left behind and be tortured and persecuted, maybe even killed. I remember “asking Jesus into my heart” over and over again, just to be on the “safe side.”

      When it came to relationships, I often felt shameful for the feelings I had for boys. I remember the first time I kissed one, I was probably about 7 or 8 and I was filled with such guilt (yes, guilt over a kiss~how ridiculous was that??) that when my mom came in to say my prayers I burst into tears, confessing my great “sin”! I remember her saying that I needed to save my kisses for the man I was going to marry.

      And at 16 when my mom gave me my “purity ring” and reminded me that my heart belonged to God….well imagine my shame when I entered into a sexual relationship BEFORE I was married. I felt like such an epic failure and it took a long time before I could tell those “voices in my head” to just shut up!!!

      Now I’m in my 40’s and while those “voices” are much quieter now, they are still there. What has helped me is in having children of my own and knowing that I do NOT want them growing up in such fear and condemnation, that at every turn and decision God’s waiting there to zap them if they don’t get it right! Matter of fact I would dare say that I don’t believe that many of the decisions we’ve made, are making now or are going to make are right/wrong decisions.

      To Stephen, writer of this blog, in your willingness to be transparent and honest and sharing your heart with us, God is using you! You have blessed me and given me such insight as to the harm that is done when we refuse to just love people, no matter what. My oldest son is gay and while it was difficult for me to accept for many years (I honestly thought it was a phase and he would grow out if it), I’ve come to the point where it is what it is, that is a part of who he is but he is the same little baby boy that I goo-gooed over and fell deeply in love with over 22 years ago. That it is still my job to protect him and I am so proud of the young man he’s become!

      And our Heavenly Father loves you even more than that! He knew you as you were being formed, knew you would be where you are today and loves you completely!! And He’s very, very proud of you!! You are as REAL as it gets!!

  20. The post reflects so much sadness and darkness until, at the end, Christ is finally mentioned. Isn’t that the wonderful truth? That when He comes into the picture, His light shines upon us and dispels the darkness.

    We are never enough, but He is. And in His enoughness, in His perfection, we rest despite our inadequacies. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

    There is a hymn with a verse saying, “Christ, the Father’s great Amen to all the hopes and dreams of every heart. Peace beyond all telling, and freedom from all fear.” Such beautifully true words. Christ Himself is the answer to every yearning of our heart, answered before it was ever asked. When we’re able to fix our eyes upon Him and allow our imperfect selves to abide in Him, we can be filled with that peace and light that those various and sundry objects of our hearts’ desire are incapable of providing.

  21. SO proud of your courage to share so honestly, Stephen! God is using you powerfully, and answering our prayers. Rob and I love you, and are cheering for you from the sidelines!!

    And I agree with Michael – You ARE a real boy. And a very, very loved one.

  22. I am going through a similar thing Stephen trying to be celibate and pure and losing a loved one and I am fantasizing about cutting myself thinking it might relieve the emotional pain instead I sit in a chair in the dark and ask God to take the pain away and it seeps out of me but I have to sit there for a long time, the difficult thing is trying to get help, I don’t want to alarm anyone and I can’t really express how serious it is, it feels like my skin is inflamed, my mind doesn’t comprehend it, so I talk myself out of getting help, it’s gets worse each time, I am unable to deal with why it is happening it seems to come out of the unconscious part of me, it’s triggered by silly things like a couple holding hands, or a compliment from someone I like, the worst thing is I have a hard time trusting anyone so I don’t know who can help me except God but I don’t know what he wants from me.

  23. Look, I dont know you, Im not Gay, nor am I Christian, but I was raised in a conservative Christian home and went to a very conservative Bible School. Along the way to my discovery that I am an atheist (yes, a group more despised than gays, blacks or Muslims), I realized most of the stuff we were taught as “Christians” is pure crap.

    Jesus spent three years hanging out with 12 men, wandering the countryside, in that time frame, he never once took the many opportunities he had to address any issue he wanted, to speak of homosexuality. There is NOTHING in the teachings of Jesus to condemn (or approve) of being gay, just as he never condemned short people, tall people, dark skinned, or light skinned people.

    There are several places in the Bible as a whole that does condemn homosexuality, but then, there are places that condemn tattoos, having sex when a woman cant get pregnant, eating pork, taking a Sunday drive, allowing women to speak up in church matters, or generally speak up at all, and all sorts of other crap, but Jesus, taught us to love one another, do good for each other, including the weakest members and told us, through the Good Sam story and other parables that our salvation lies not within our brand of religion, but in our hearts. if a Muslim treats you with kindness, and an evangelical preacher tries to make you kill yourself, which one is doing God’s work? (not saying Muslims are any better about homosexuality).

    I hope you find the peace to live your life fully, yes, with the person you love in a full sexual relationship, and keep your faith, but if not, I hope you ask yourself what good your faith is doing you. If you must choose between a celibate life or losing your faith, you need to look for a new faith. hurting yourself because you are afraid god isn’t happy with you is terrible and a terrible waste of your life.

    You obviously are a caring and thoughtful person. You need to embrace who you are and go do God’s (or your own) work, of loving and caring for others. Relationships are hard enough when you don’t buy into the crap others try to poison you with. I dare you to find ONE TIME Jesus condemned homosexuality! HE DIDN’T! So why should we even think about it. Be the man God made you. If you are gay, be gay. I promise you I will never be Ex Gay, anymore than I will ever be Ex White! Don’t let others kill you! Don’t let them talk you into killing yourself. God is love, if there is any God, and if there is a God and he is full of hate and crap, then he isn’t worth worrying about. Think about it! Good luck!

    I don’t think you need to be a Christian, but if you want to be Christian, you certainly don’t have to be either straight or celibate.

  24. Wow, this is a very moving poignant writing and it’s painfully obvious it comes from a deep place of loneliness, hurt, and anger. All of which are completely justifiable. I think maybe that I find it so compelling because it sounds so similar to my story but with a few different details.

    I too was raised and, to some extent, forced into a belief system that same sex attractions (SSA) was learned and could be changed. After years of pleading and grumbling at the church altar as well as seeking out famous religious speakers with hopes they would cast the gay spirit out of me, I have come to a place of knowing, I was born with SSA just as opposite sex attracted person was/is.

    Coming to grips with this part of my life didn’t happen overnight and it certainly didn’t come without a good deal of self destructive behaviors. I did, however, reach a place of internal safety. Beautiful was the day I found internal peace despite the chaos around me.

    I am a homosexual male and I am choosing to live a life of celibacy because of my spiritual belief system. I wasn’t forced, coarsed, or tricked into living this way but I believe if I trust what the Bible says and make my life fit it, rather than make it fit my life, I can trust God to make up for any lack. This doesn’t come without some days or weeks of depression, loneliness, sadness, etc as you are, sadly, very well aware.

    The pieces to this puzzle are many and it certainly is not one size fits all. As anything in life, everything comes with pros and cons and it often feels as if living a celibate life has the cons out weighing the pros. I’ve read a fair amount of literature about people who choose celibacy in their quest to stay true to their moral code and there are a few concepts that are the same across the board.

    One of which would be questioning ones motivation for this choice. Was it for someone else, to be accepted by a church member, pastor, a crush, or to please parents? The process of evaluating one’s motivation can be confusing and down-right near impossible at times. If I do it for someone else it’s a no-brainer. I’ll hate it and eventually die – inside or literally. (“Washed and Waiting” this book explains it amazingly and “Torn” does as well)

    Another piece to this puzzle is finding people in my life to meet my innate – God given desire to connect with other people. It’s obvious that “just love God and all will be ok” doesn’t work. I love it when churched people say this as an end all but they get to go home to their spouse. Hypocritical to say the least. But God created us needing communion and connection with other people and this need still requires attention. For me it was finding people in my church, recovery group, and at work to be my solid, healthy, responsible, loving, nurturing, and fulfilling friendships/relationships. No one can do this road alone – road of life and especially the road of celibacy.

    I’ll end with this thought but I’d really like to communicate more with you. Where do we find our worth, identity, sense of who we are, and/or how much we matter? I ask because so many of us find these things from other people – dependent personality traits but one’s difficulty to be alone, etc. I’m certainly not saying it’s wrong to desire relationships, it’s when these relationships define us.

    I loved it when you started to say that you are just a guy who just so happens to be attracted to other guys and are comfortable in your own skin. That’s freakin awesome!! If we as SSA men can stay true to who we are, truly not being influenced by other people’s opinions, and can say we have a healthy view of relationships and intimacy, then I’d challenge anyone to start asking the hard questions of celibacy. Its not “if I try hard enough” or “do the right things” but it’s about building healthy sustainable nurturing relationships, not doing it in any amount of isolation.

    Not sure if my ramblings made any sense, but I’d like to hear from ya.

    Congrats on your quest for self-discovery and open mind. Being willing is all that is asked of us.

    I don’t understand why I have SSA or why I am living in this period of history or many other things but I know that God ultimately does. The challenge is doing what I believe is right even if it doesn’t make sense, appears unfair, is horifically uncomfortable, or anxiety provoking. If God said do it, I show up willing and he’ll do the rest.

    I still don’t understand it all but I can say that living a celibate hasn’t been a nightmare merely bc I have surrounded myself with amazing supportive people who know my story and we hang out a lot. They meet my need for connecting. I am in recovery and working a great program helping me to grow, I see a counselor to address my co- dependent behaviors and traits, I have a sponsor, accountability friendships, and do activities with my friends such as hiking, movies, camping, etc.

    Keep in touch

    – Shane

  25. Stephen, my heart breaks to hear of your pain, yet it rejoices to hear you have allowed yourself the freedom to be who GOD made you. You are the sum of all your feelings, experiences, hopes, and desires. To deny any of those is to thwart your life’s purpose. Sharing these things publicly will, hopefully help many others who struggle to accept and love themselves as they were made.
    Bless you

  26. I assume you don’t believe in slavery. Yet God himself ordained it, with his own mouth telling his people where to buy slaves and telling them they could own them “forever” and pass them down to their heirs “because they are your property.” Slavery is shown to be acceptable to God in numerous places throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Never once in the entire Bible is slavery even hinted at, as being a bad thing. Coveting a neighbor’s ass is important enough to be in the Commandments, but not owning and trafficking in fellow human beings….

    So my question is this: If you can simply ignore with impunity what God unambiguously said about slavery, why can’t you ignore a handful of ambiguous texts that were written by men who didn’t even know there was such a thing as a homosexual orientation?

    What boggles my mind is WHY anyone would latch onto those texts, which related to the PERVERSION of presumably straight people dabbling in hedonism (unnatural sex for THEM), and which obviously aren’t talking about anyone with a loving same-gender orientation—as if life depended on it, or as if they even applied? Why do people choose to create their own misery out of nothing? Shouldn’t it just be obvious on the face of it that a God who is the very essence of love would be joyed over loving relationships and saddened by self-imposed misery? Go figure.

    The problem is religious fundamentalism and the brainwashing it does on people from the cradle.

  27. http://www.rmnblog.org/2013/05/pastor-comes-out-to-his-bishop-for-marriage-equality.html?fb_action_ids=554671618281&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%22554671618281%22%3A195949237227341%7D&action_type_map=%7B%22554671618281%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

    I hope this article gives you some hope for the future. I am a United Methodist ordained Deacon. UMC clergy are forbidden from officiating at same-sex marriages or holy unions or any other such thing. This article is the letter that one pastor wrote to his bishop and so will probably face a church trial. He is only one of many, though still a minority. (I have also signed a statement that I will disobey that order.)

  28. You are screwed Dude. As long as you are stuck in Christianity there is little chance for resolution. You would be a Hindu if you were born in India or a Buddist if born in China. Remember, he who knows one knows none. Read about the machiembras in Haiti and know your current stand makes no sense. Learn about life and explore the Earth. It is much bigger than you think.

  29. Stephen I appreciate that you are sharing this very personal story which involves deep pain and self harm It is difficult to read and not be heart broken. It is an important story to tell and you are helping others in the process. When I look back on my life, when I was out of the closet and single and dating women. I had occasional loneliness but was always hopeful I would find the right one. So I went out and flirted with women and had some good times but it didn’t lead to promiscuity. I think it was a healthy outlet because I was being myself. But living life as a celibate gay Christian has caused ramifications for me emotionally that I wasn’t expecting so it makes me pause and question the longer term issues surrounding celibacy and love and relationships. Not sure what the answers are because sometimes experience doesn’t give us the answers instead I think experience helps us ask the questions. I consider how David in the Bible constantly poured his heart out to God and he pushed the boundaries with God; David even crossed the lines but God still loved him dearly because he was genuine and truthful about himself. This is what God likes and you have shown yourself to be someone with integrity. God bless you as you move forward with your life.

  30. Stephen I am just recently where you are know I do know the pain that you made so very clear, as well as the joy, which I have never felt before exept for the last few months. Here is my story in video ever so quickly!

  31. Hey Stephen (or Danielle or Whit),
    I loved this post and would like your permission to repost it on IMPACTmagazine.us. We are an online mag for LGBT people of faith, living in the intersection of living faith, the real world, and being gay/bi/trans. Our mission is to show that sexuality and faith are not incompatable, and that God’s love is not limited by one’s sexual identity. Since Stephen’s journey reflects so many of ours, we’d love to post it … along with a brief bio, pic, and link to this blog.

    What do you think? You can check us out: http://www.IMPACTmagazine.us or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IMPACTmagazine.us

    We’d love to hear from you … and even have you as a frequent contributor.

    Steve Schmidt

  32. Pingback: Some Tools of Chaste Living: Introduction | Spiritual Friendship

  33. Pingback: Celibacy is Not the Gospel | Spiritual Friendship

  34. Pingback: Celibacy is Not the Gospel » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog

  35. Stephen, thank you for this post. I know it took a lot of energy to put it down, but I’m glad you did. I don’t know if you’re Catholic – I just this evening found your site. The Catholic tradition teaches, and I believe, that celibacy is a gift from God, a charism that God gives to a relatively few individuals. I used to be a Franciscan friar. I wanted to become a Franciscan priest. But I didn’t have the gift of celibacy. For me, it would have been impossible to live a lifetime without sex. I also am gay, so I had some of the “dissonance” you allude to in your post. In the Church’s view, there is no licit sexual outlet for me. Either I try to assume a gift I was not given, or I sin. I’m now 67 years old, and I’ve had a lot of time to live and reflect on and settle this dissonance in my life. God is a God of mercy and love. Our new Holy Father – God bless him and give him a long life and reign – is eloquent in his preaching on God’s love for us and God’s unending, enduring mercy. I have decided that God has called me to a life of total reliance on God’s love and mercy along with my daily, hourly, minute-by-minute awareness that it is God whose love sustains me, and it is God who made me gay. I have fallen totally in love with Jesus because of this constant dependence on His mercy and love. I am forced to talk to Him constantly because He is my reality check. A gay friend told me years ago that gay Christians have to “live the mystery of Jesus’s love.” I didn’t know what he meant when he told me that. I do know what he meant now. I am a better human being, a better lover, and a better Christian because I have been forced daily to live my life dependent entirely on God’s understanding, mercy, and love. My advice (for what little it’s worth): don’t let yourself go down the maze of past feelings, regrets, fears, and history. When your emotions want to take you there, stop what you’re doing, get to a quiet place, and let your mind concentrate on the mercy and love of Jesus. Only on His mercy and love. Look at the face of the Lord in this quiet time, and listen to Him. As the Holy Father had said several times, a person cannot look at the face of Jesus and not be changed. I’m pretty sure you will think I am some old fart who has spent too much time in church. I understand if you believe that. But what I have written here is the path that friends showed me years ago, and it is the path that has enriched my spiritual life ( and all the rest of me) more than I can tell you. Pax et bonum, Stephen. Peace and Everything Good!

  36. I think a lot of Side B people are covertly ex-gay, like those spiritual friendship people and Eve Tushnet and Wesley Hill and those Queer Calling girls.

  37. Pingback: Why The Side B Gays Are Wrong | Against Celibate Gays

  38. Thanks for sharing your honest heart. I relate! The phrase in your blog that I identified with the most was… ” a man who finds other men soul-meltingly beautiful” …I just tend to say, Men are HOTT! Lol. Your sweet spirit and peace-longing heart for your Creator are sincerely genuine, Thank you for revealing it! God’s Peace upon you.


  39. Beautifully written, Stephen. And heartrendingly transparent:

    “The ex-gay world teaches that same sex attractions are a deficit of masculinity – that men are deprived of affection and love from same sex peers and parents. I latched onto that message and, like Pinocchio, dove into the ex-gay world on a quest to become a real boy.”

    Full stop.

    *quietly inhales*

    Blessings to you,

  40. Pingback: Coming out as Ex-Side-B | GregComesOut

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