I’m D_____. I’m 23 years old. I’m at university studying Vocal Music Education. Music has been my passion since I was literally three years old. I’d been singing at home since I was two or so and after that, I was hooked…especially on church music. Coming from a musical family, especially one that sings and plays “by ear” a lot, my early childhood musical experiences weren’t hindered by people trying to make me read music. I was encouraged to use the ears the good Lord gave me and HEAR the parts I was singing and how they related to the piece as a whole. This has given me the “competitive edge” I need in ear-training classes here in college.

I was a strange little kid, if I do say so myself. I was literally preoccupied with music, to the point where I would spend hours listening to it instead of making friends or going outside to play. As a result, I was maladjusted and had almost NO close guy friends. Because so much of my time was spent in music, especially at church, I became really good friends with two girls. They were both best friends and C____ was the pastor’s granddaughter. I found I related to them in more meaningful ways because of our collective love for singing and performing, so that’s where I spent my time. I resented when the guys would play whiffle-ball in the church parking lot and the youth leaders would make me play. I didn’t want to have anything to do with dirt or sports or running…I wanted to make music.

When I was five, I was sexually assaulted by A____, a kid two years older than me who was emulating something he saw on a poorly-scrambled cable channel. He billed it as a game, so I took the bait. He was on his way to becoming a pianist and was also very musically talented and his family and my family were very close. I called his mom “Aunt V_____” because his mom and my mom were close friends. It deeply hurt me that he did that. I was 15 before I could think of Adam and not cringe and want to punch his lights out. (It was unlikely I ever would have. He was MUCH bigger than I was, which wasn’t hard since I didn’t break 100 pounds until Jr. High.)

After that, I was really confused. I knew I had kind of liked the attention and the feelings the act had caused. I knew it wasn’t “normal,” but I couldn’t put my finger on what “normal” was. My parents knew SOMETHING had gone on, but it turns out my aunt had never actually told them what went on. Even if they had known, how do you explain sex to a five year old…he hasn’t even started writing in cursive yet!

When I became old enough to realize what had happened that night, I was very hurt, almost to the point of it feeling like it happened all over again. It was a very long time before I could think of that kid again and not be full of hate and anger. In the meantime, I was struggling with inadequacies and perfectionism. The devil really beat me over the head about how I wasn’t good enough, so I tried to make up for it. I was involved a lot at church and school. I obsessed about my looks…a death trap when you have an acne problem.

I was jealous of other guys almost ALL throughout school, and those jealousies carried over into puberty, where they became deep-seated attractions. I was NEVER happy with my body…I had acne and I wasn’t muscular. I saw guys with cool hair and hated my practical, industro-cut that my mom insisted on so I would need a trim every two weeks. Other guys just had this mystery to them. I knew what Adam was like, but I didn’t have any clue if OTHER guys did (or didn’t do) what Adam had done. I felt very far away from anyone, so I compensated. I knew I WAS good at music, so I threw myself into that and the awards I got, and the lead roles year after year put me in the spotlight. Even if I “couldn’t” have close friends, I made sure EVERYONE knew who I was. There wasn’t anyone at any of my schools who hadn’t at least HEARD of me…not even at my large high school was I anonymous. I was drum major of the marching band and led them in routines at football games and at indoor pep rallies. I was Will Parker in Oklahoma, I was on the school board in the Music Man (I love barbershop!), I was in the exclusive Jazz Combo. (I won’t go on…that’s just to prove a point.)

Meanwhile, I had huge infatuations with guys that I avoided. I looked for any way to emulate the guys I envied. Gym class was somewhat instructive, but I felt more than mildly inferior in such settings. The only thing it really tipped me off to was that the older guys wore boxers and I didn’t…so I changed that very quickly. (And lest I be labeled as a sell-out…most of my fellow freshmen did the same within the first four weeks of the class…Gotta love unspoken peer pressure.)

There wasn’t any way that anyone could have helped me at this point in my life, because even my closest friends were more or less mere acquaintances. I kept it that way so that I’d never have to bare my soul to them, never have to face rejection, and never have them turn on me and tell everyone they knew. When I got to a point in my life that I began singing on worship teams, the devil began to beat me over the head on several things at once. He told me that I didn’t have enough talent, didn’t have the looks, and that not only did I have a lust problem, but I was lusting after other men. The last two were the truth, but he made a point of twisting the knife.

The first friend I had that I could literally ask ANYTHING without fear of rejection ended up being one of the guys that had given me the hardest time in Jr. High. We ended up being friends my junior and senior years of high school. He de-mystified guys a lot for me since I saw him as kind of the “representative sample” of straight guys. I won’t repeat some of the questions I asked him…but he filled me in on how “normal guys” felt about such things. (I didn’t take everything he said as ‘gospel law;’ but it did give me something to build on.) Even with all of that, I still didn’t feel like I had any REALLY close guy friends.

There was a song that I knew based on Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” I remember singing that, thinking, “Yeah, right.” I was under a lot of condemnation, and sometimes would cry myself to sleep. This kept up until the end of my first semester of college. I was scared that I’d get kicked off the worship team. I was afraid that my friends would all leave me and that I’d never be able to fulfill my dream of becoming a worship leader.

The other, closely related thing in my story is masturbation. I struggled on and off, beginning at 13 or 14, until I was finally tired of denying myself. I saw no reason to stop masturbating, and I hid behind the fact that the Bible doesn’t say anything about it without addressing its cause. I knew that the more I did it, the more guilty I felt, but I wrote off the guilt as something that society had placed on me, rather than it being true guilt. At Crosspoint 2000 (a retreat event my church sponsored), my youth pastor had a talk with the guys that included calling masturbation wrong, but I wrote it off. I had a feeling he was right, but it was in my “best interest” to ignore him, or so I thought.

I went to college to study music. I was in limbo…I had no clue about the extent of gay culture on college campuses and it drove me nuts. Even though I struggled with it in a huge way, I was not ignorant of the Bible or of God’s call on my life. I knew that what God had called me to do required me being freed from homosexual desires and feeling the obligation to feeding them. I was depressed and was masturbating three times a day. I didn’t get along with my roommates so well, so I didn’t feel very accepted there. I didn’t see joining the gay culture as an option…I HATED what they stood for, even though the attractions burned within me.

So NOW I had a lust problem, homosexual temptations, AND an addiction to masturbation that I couldn’t shake. As a result, I was a very depressed college freshman. Not only had I left my comfort zone, but some of the people in the marching band (our band has a rumor mill that rivals that of the gossip columns) had begun to spread rumors that I was gay. This rumor made me out to be a hypocrite, which I also hated.

Then, God finally brought me to my knees in February of ’01. Someone at Chi Alpha’s “Pray Yer Gutz Out” prayed that guys on campus would be freed from masturbation and homosexuality. It revolutionized my prayer life, but that isn’t all it did. God began working on me in a heavy-duty way that January and early February. It was about a week after my 19th birthday and I was just miserable when I turned a corner that day and had already started talking to the worship leader in the campus ministry I was involved in. That night, I lifted up my struggle to God and amazing things happened…I wasn’t lusting and I had NO desire to masturbate. I was free for a period of about 4 months. I stumbled again when I came home and it was a constant battle until about a month ago.

At that point, one of the guys who leads the small group I’m a part of at the university said he’d keep me accountable on pornography but not masturbation. He told me, “Focus on letting go of the porn. If you feel like masturbating, just do it and move on. Don’t guilt yourself over it…it’s not even listed as a sin!”

I was like, ‘WHOA…goes against EVERYTHING!’ But, at that point, it was like, “Well, I’ve tried everything else, so let me try this.” It’s worked. I still don’t know that I recommend what he recommended to me…at this point, I don’t know WHAT I’d recommend to someone. HOWEVER, since I adopted that attitude, I have masturbated about 4 times in the space of about 6 weeks. Going from someone who masturbates up to three times a day to someone who masturbates less than once a week…that’s something right there, so take that as you will.

Back to my dealings with homosexuality:

When I was preparing for my former accountability partner’s wedding two summers ago, we were in Kansas City. All of his groomsmen were family, except for two: myself and another guy, who had been his best friend pre-college. He and I were sharing a room, and watching Saturday Night Live reruns on Comedy Central at 3 in the morning. I had eaten too much pizza and it was catching up with me in a bad way.

This guy, who had been lying on the other bed, got up and put his hand on my thigh and leaned over to kiss me. He didn’t know me from Adam! I mustered enough strength from the brain-freeze I was in (I totally had gone numb) and said, “No,” quietly but decidedly. He backed off a little and asked, “Are you sure there’s nothing there?” I nodded, even though he was VERY attractive. My flesh was going, “What the heck?? This is your chance!!” But my spirit, my new man, said, “No…don’t. You’ve come too far to give in and go down like this. Christ died for you…now die to your desire.” And that still, small voice was right, because 3 minutes later, the groom’s older brother, a former worship leader in Chi Alpha, with whom I was also good friends) came into the room to sleep since he’d finished talking to his fiancee. God saved me from more than embarrassment, though. He saved me from utter ruin, ruin that might’ve driven me to drastic things, things I can’t even imagine.

+ + + + +

Right now, I’m as far away as I can be from homosexuality. I’m really trying to check myself spiritually. So far, so good…so I’m going to keep checking myself. I’ve really taken to heart the passage that talks about making sure you DON’T fall if you suppose yourself to be standing firm.

There was a cute guy at Panera…and I was able to walk right past him. The last time I was really able to do that was like two plus years ago. I noticed his shirt and made a mental note to buy one like it since it was a color we can wear on our stage at church. But that was it…couldn’t point the guy out in a line-up now.

I asked my mentor Ricky, “What now? I know I’ve still got a while in this fight because it’s LIFE…but this part of my life has shrunken considerably! My SSAs have been so much a part of my life since I was four or five, Ricky. I don’t understand how I could ever go on without them even though I’ve hated them all my life. It seems I’ve leaned on and indulged the very things I hate for a long time now. So much condemnation is gone!

“I’m finally experiencing victory in not taking that second look and not being ruled over by masturbation and so forth. I’m somewhat attracted to girls, but it’s never to the point where I have to take a second look. Not even a lusting second look; I’m just talking about NOTICING. I honestly don’t know if I even want a family…having kids and grandkids would be nice someday, I guess…but it’s just not something I’m really PASSIONATE about.”

His answer was, “What next? Well the truth is in the enduring . . . the persevering. That is really the ‘next’ thing. As you said, you are feeling lots of freedom right now, and that is great and as it should be as you follow more closely to Christ; however, it is really lived out in the race — the distance. Overcoming homosexuality is really about ‘a long obedience in the same direction,’ to use Eugene Peterson’s term. After a few years of walking this out and being found faithful, then it is time to move to the next level, but you’ll know that. Now whether that is marriage or celibacy is up to you and your calling with God, I cannot tell you, but it seems that you are experiencing the kinds of things that one experiences when real freedom comes…. but it does take time and perseverance.”

I’m becoming more whole, by the grace of God.

How did I get to where I am now? I honestly don’t know. My quiet times are just as sporadic as they’ve been, but this renewed breath of life encourages me to make them more frequent. I feel like I finally have hope. Not that I didn’t before…it’s just different from before. I wish, having gotten to the place I am now with these attractions that I could tell you how I got there and do this, this, and that to get HERE (wherever HERE is). But in His great mercy and plan, He hasn’t revealed to me the route. All I know is that His hand leads, guys. Even when you’re standing still…He leads.

You know, my heart just aches that all of you would allow yourselves to be led to a place of rest and healing. Not that God would zap you into being straight…but rather that you could get alone with God and just LISTEN to Him.

And for you guys and girls that are struggling with standing still…sometimes standing still is part of the journey. If you’ve checked yourself and you are submitting it to God but you feel stalemated, you’re STILL moving with Him.