Sunday, April 18, 2010

The day I knew I was different

When I was 12 or 13 years old my parents gave me a book by Dr. James Dobson titled "Preparing for Adolescence". Well I just found that book again the other day at the bottom of a box of old books in my parents basement. Upon seeing the cover a wave of bad memories poured over me and I almost threw it to the floor. I instantly remembered it was when I read this very book that I realized I was different then others. I had been confused as to why I was attracted to males so I read through it like crazy trying to see if my feelings of being attracted to guys were normal. I was hoping that they would go away and I would be "normal". The book kept talking about being attracted to the other sex and changes to the body etc. , but nothing seemed to apply to my same sex attractions. Well finally on page 85 there it was a description of me and a new word I had never heard before...homosexual. I had no idea what it meant but I knew it was me after reading it. As far as I can recall (sorry no way am I reading this book again to make sure) this was the only mention in the entire book about homosexual thoughts. Here is the entire passage:

"Wouldn't it be awful if I became a homosexual? A homosexual is someone who is not attracted to the opposite sex, but who is attracted to the same sex. It's a boy's interest in boys or a girl's interest in girls. Homosexuality is an abnormal desire that reflects deep problems, but it doesn't happen often and it's not likely to happen to you."

That was it. A 200 page book on preparing for adolescence with one paragraph on homosexual thoughts. What really made me have a deep sense of sadness when I found the book again the other day was the page was still folded. I must have folded it when I was 13 and probably was so confused I did not know what to do with this information. After that the rest of the book pretty much just ignored the topic from what I can remember.

So needless to say I was very confused after reading this. Apparently I was a boy with "deep problems" and I did not know what to do. The book gave no advice on what to do if you had these attractions but just said you were deeply abnormal if you had them. From that point on I vowed to never let my parents or friends know. I built a wall around myself that to this day has not been broken. Although I am really trying to break through it and open up to others. This blog is a first step in that.

Looking back as an adult now I so wish that Dr. Dobson had given some kind of advice as what to do if you had these feelings. Maybe tell a parent, tell your pastor, tell your youth leader, or give some sort of advice. I really think now that if that little paragraph was going to be the only info on homosexual thoughts in the whole book it probably should have been removed and not even talked about. I was just an innocent and confused 13 year old kid wanting to know what was going on with my attractions and the only thing I read in this book was that I was apparently a freak since "it does not happen often" and not only was I a freak but I was a freak with "deep problems". I to this day wish I had never read that book. All it did was make me feel like more of an outsider and start me on the path of keeping people at a distance that I am still trying to overcome today.

How did you first find out what a homosexual was? Was it as bad as my experience? Did you read it in a book or hear about it from friends or what?


  1. Wow, that is sad. I can't imagine how damaging that passage would be for a 13-year-old who actually does struggle with that. That's absolutely terrible.

    I can't remember when I found out what a homosexual was. I know I distinctly remember my mom saying that Elton John was "very queer," but there's a good chance I had heard from friends before that. It wasn't until many years later that I stopped denying that "homosexual" could describe me. That was a pretty weird revelation, but I was around 20 or 21, so it wasn't as bad as what you went through.

  2. Thanks for the comment Alan! Yea I still denied it for many years after reading it in this book.

    I was just really surprised how emotional I got when I saw this book the other day and had to post about it. It definetly must have had an effect on me to bring those emotions to the surface by just me seeing the book.

  3. At 13 I was not acquainted with the word homosexual. The first time I heard it was wrong was when our Pastor was talking to us boys in a church club and I still remember the words, "It is wrong for one boy to touch another in a sexual way." That was about the extent of it. One guy in the group and I had already done that before but now we heard it was wrong. Later discovered other guys through the years in school who had similar desires. I guess the saddest time was when a Christian friend invited me home to his place on the farm for a couple days and at night he just started seducing me, it was kind of a shock.

    I just want to say something right here, no matter how strong the desire may feel like to be with another guy, run from it as fast as you can. I didn't and I have paid so dearly. Each encounter or sexual experience is indelibly imprinted in the mind and believe me it never goes away. I may have forgotten a lot of other life experiences I have had in the past, or at least the details of it, but sexual stuff is as clear as when it happened. I believe that is why God says it is wrong, He knows the power of sexual desire and when it comes to homosexuality He knew it would affect every part of our lives and confuse the normal desires He wanted us to have. And of course the enemy capitalizes on our weakness. Often I have heard and read statistics that say that many kids were sexually molested or drawn into fantasizing about other guys around the age of 11. Puberty is a great time but also one when things are being awakened and it is a sad fact that some of us were distracted by someone who should have known better and it started us down the road of feeling different and being reticent or even scared to tell anyone.

    I can understand your feelings when you rediscovered that book, something you still wish wasn't true. I am so proud of you for having the desire right now in your life to face it, work through it and seek God for the answers you need. That's why I gave the above warning, it is better to never touch another guy, I know.

  4. Thanks Stan for telling me about your past. Wow sounds like you had a tough childhood! So sorry. :(

    Also thanks for the warnings and advice. I definetly am going to keep trying to go on this celibate path. Sometimes the temptations are really strong but I know your right and I just would not be fulfilled even though my body sometimes wants to tell me otherwise.

  5. I had that exact book. Uncanny. Same response as you, too.

  6. I had that exact book. Uncanny. Same response as you, too.

    Wow kinda glad to see I was not the only one who had this book growing up! Good to see my response to the book was not unique as well!

  7. I am not sure where I first heard what a homosexual was, I'd guess at school though. I'd say my experience of seeing myself in that light was more of a process, though, I was always attracted to guys, as least that I can remember. However, I was in denial for a long time and it wasn't until my college had a speaker from Exodus International speak in chapel that I started to really come to grips with my attractions. I knew I was different, but it was at that point that I started realize this wasn't some phase I would grow out of. All I had heard all through school, and even in my family and church about homosexuals was negative, so I certainly didn't want myself labeled that way. That's probably why I denied it for so long.

  8. Ya for a really long time I hoped these SSA were just a phase for me as well. Like you I have pretty much only ever been attracted to guys as far as I can remember anyways. I actually went to a Christian high school and I remember another guy in my class once asked me if I was gay because I never talked about girls or went on dates and I of course denied it but I was really embarrassed by the question. Even now I am alot more comfortable saying to myself that I struggle with SSA rather then saying I am a homosexual.

  9. Hello,

    First post I have read from you AJ and wanted to say thanks for sharing and wanted to comment.

    I never read any book such as this you mentioned, but clearly recall when I first realized where my attractions lay. I was in elementary school standing in line behind a boy I had a crush on and it all kind of clicked.

    When I got home I told my mom I liked Erek, and she said that was nice. So I told her again, No, I like him like Bryan (my brother) likes Lisa (his girlfriend).

    She didn't say much, except that she understood and that we would have to talk to my Dad when he got home from work. We did have a talk and that began the process in life that I am still living out. They simply let me grow up a myself.

    I guess I did not have a label, per se, until high school? I am sorry that people have written such ambiguous and hurtful things to such an impressionable and questing audience.

    Shame on them. Peace, bro!


  10. Thanks for visiting and sharing your past Daemon! I sometimes wish I had done that when I was a kid. Just told my parents I was attracted to other guys. Probably would have saved me from alot of problems and hiding. Oh well to late to worry about what may have been different if I had.

    Anyways thanks for the comment!

  11. I've read bits of James Dobeson's book Bringing Up Boys. It's full of incredible ridiculous pseudoscientific nonsense. Don't look to him for any form of advice.


  12. "How did you first find out what a homosexual was? Was it as bad as my experience? Did you read it in a book or hear about it from friends or what? "

    At 11 years old in 6th grade is when I first remember actually having a crush on another guy in my school. I still clearly remember his name, his face, other body features, and the strong emotions I was feeling. Also, I remember hearing other guys talking at that time about their feelings for girls, so I immediately knew I was feeling those same feelings for this guy. I had already heard enough crude talk and gay bashing to realize that my crush meant I fit the "gay" description. I decided I was gay but chose to remain silent to avoid the inevitable bullying.

    About 2 years later, before I acted on my attractions, God brought me to repentance and renewed faith in Him. I have been fighting SSA ever since.

    I felt intense emotional pain about this issue and had no one I felt I could talk to, so, yes, I think my experience was as bad as yours. But, in the last few years I have been very open with Christian friends about this, and their encouragement and love has been a huge help.

  13. Thanks for sharing MR! Yea it was so confusing having these feelings growing up. I know what you mean about the emotional pain! Growing up I was in so much pain from having these attractions but was afraid to talk to anyone. I still have not but I know I have too if I ever want to have closer relationships with people and not be hiding all the time.

  14. Correct me if I'm wrong. My understanding of some of the comments here is the acceptance (this includes AJ) that homosexuality is a sin. But God would still love you if you suppressed your gay thoughts and desires and do not engage in homosexual sex. Has anyone of you realized that is an almost impossible feat? Even priests who were ordained as ministers of God can not do that. And worse, they used their position of trust to have sex with young and innocent boys and girls. It is clearly unfair for anyone to expect you to be celibate. You are just laymen like myself.

    If indeed God created us, straights and homosexuals, emotional and sexual beings with the instinct to seek intimacy and companionship with another human being, then everybody must accept God's creation regardless how each one of us was created. We have to accept who we are. We must not care what other people think of us. We will go nowhere if we worry about that. Just live a decent and ethical life (you know, do unto others . . .) and be civil with one another. That is good enough.

    There was a time I wanted to be a priest and serve God. I did not become a priest because there are many impossible no nos. It is a sin to: lie on your stomach, masturbate (wait for nocturnal emission it will come out. I don't like this at all because I don't want to do laundry when I wake up.), don't lust for women and God forbid for men in your thoughts. So no sex in your thoughts and in practice. That's even beyond celibacy. I am straight, I am horny, so no priesthood for me.

    I have some gay friends. At their parties, some straight guests asked what I am. I said, I'm a human being. What about them? Angered and defensive, they said they meant if I was gay. I said I am a lesbian. Lesbians like women, I like women, that makes me a lesbian. My brother and I are very close. We put our arms on each other and whisper to each other (what is called in the West as acting gay). Aside from being brothers, our culture think nothing of it when men hold hands in public. With one caveat -- no erections. My brother used his fists to settle an argument. I compliment him by trying to settle it with words, but we end up giving and getting blackeyes in many instances. One of those instances was when we were asked who was the man and the woman in our relationship. I could immediately sensed my Mr. Nice Guy (lol) brother tensed up ready to hit the guy. I tried to diffuse the tension by saying both of us enjoy being over, under, in and out. Before he was able to say another word after disgusting, two fists hit him in the face.

    We stopped trying to be accepted by Whites or anybody who doesn't like us for whatever reason. We live our own lives and be happy with what we had accomplished and will accomplish. And thank God the United States is a democratic and pluralistic country with decent people in the majority. The bigots, racists and haters are in the minority.

    In avoiding prejudice and bigotry, you guys have an advantage over my brother and me. You can hide your homosexuality. My brother and I can't. We are not white, we are light brown and we have an accent. We confront prejudice and bigotry the moment we get out the door or even when we answer the phone. We don't need to be accepted. We just want to live our lives decently and comfortably. Too bad if that is not acceptable to some people. Whatever we do, they won't accept us. And so, why hide our true selves? And with due respect, I also ask you, why hide your true selves? It is none of their business whoever you are.

  15. @Anonymous....I think it's the contention of most believers on here that our truest self is not homosexual. While we may have succomb to same sex attractions or was never part of God's design...but more a result of our fallen world. Procreation points to God's design for sexuality....a man and a woman. Homosexuality is a distortion of real, legitimate same sex needs....acceptance, affirmation, belonging.......frustrating those normal desires and needs with by withdrawing from that stage of life stunts our emotional and sexual maturity....the premise of our sexual identities lies unvalidated, unconfirmed.....if we then sexualize those natural and normal same sex needs of relational intimacy/disclosure/friendship/acceptance/approval......we're in for the full on-slaught of homosexual temptation. I feel that until we find the healing and affirmation of those normal and healthy same sex desires we won't find progress and closure in our truest selves...our God given sexuality. I'm confident that healing is available and promised to anyone willing to trust the Spirit's leading towards manhood. By healing I mean sexual attraction to the opposite sex (we're drawn to the 'other'ness in the opposite sex.....that's not possible if we haven't been confident in our identity as men....if we look at other men and say, I'm not a man like they are....once healing has occurred in our understanding of ourselves as it relates to our own gender then and only then can we begin to view the opposite sex as the appropriate 'other'. Have we built mental, emotional, sexual responses to same sex attractions.....if we struggle with homosexuality-we most certainly have. But I maintain that those desires loose their credibility when the lie that upheld them is removed and disarmed with truth. I've seen this true in my life. Do we have to break and walk away from those patterns of the flesh...absolutely...but the work has been done...the victory is won in seeing God more rightly, in seeing yourself and others more rightly.

  16. I just want to say that I had pretty much the EXACT same experience with this book as a youth. That short little invidious paragraph propelled me forward into 15 years of lonely, isolated self-hatred and denial. I have made peace with my feelings and attractions (mostly), but I ran across my old copy of this book the other day...with the infamous "page 85" dog-eared just like yours...and my blood boiled!!! I am aghast at Dobson's callous irresponsibility.

    PS - the following book was instrumental in my healing. You might find something valuable in it as well:

    peace and love!

  17. Wow ya Anonymous looks like this book affected you the same as me. While I dont want to go overboard and blame it for everything it definitely had a negative impact on me and further caused me to go into hiding and increased my shame even more. Dr. Dobson really should have thought it through before even including it in the book knowing that of least some SSA christians struggling would end up reading it and be even more confused since nothing was discussed about it except for that one tiny paragraph!

    Anyways glad you found my blog and thanks for sharing! Will check out that link.