Thomas’ Testimony

I am a 43 year old man with a beautiful wife and an equally beautiful daughter. God has worked wonderfully in my life! Mine is a story of hurt, distrust, lies, abuse, but finally redemption.

My road to redemption was complex. An important part of the journey was my childhood. I was born into a very interesting family. My father was the son of a powerful Columbia lawyer and judge. My dad was a wonderful loving man with a sweet spirit. My dad’s family was one of privilege and power. My grandfather was one of those bigger than life men that you never challenged.

On the other hand my mom’s family was made up of working class people with conservative values. Tradition and family gatherings meant a lot to them and this continues to this day. Into this mix I was born as the first grandson to carry the family name. A lot was expected of me.

I was a sensitive child with a love of music and art. I don’t think my dad fully understood me. He didn’t understand a child that loved to sing. This led to a detachment between us. He was an outgoing man with a zest for life. He was born with a degenerative heart and spent a year of his life confined to a bed. I think this led him to live life to its fullest every day. My mom is a wonderful woman but she was a hovering mother. I think she felt she had to keep control of boys because she grew up in a house full of girls. She was an at-home mom and was there for us as we grew up. This was my life as a child.

One summer my family went on vacation. During this trip I was molested by two older boys. I am not sure how it happened and some of the details are fuzzy. I don’t remember who they were or how old they were. I do remember the acts they performed on me and the acts I performed on them. It was horrific and haunts me to this day. I never told anyone at the time, and kept this a secret for most of my life. When we returned home from that trip my life was changed forever.

Once I did get the opportunity to address the molestation with my mom. Her response was that it could not have happened because she kept such a close eye on me. I felt betrayed and let down by her response. I was reaching out for some closure on this chapter in my life and she did not want to face the facts of the situation. To this day we don’t talk about it but have learned our love for each other is greater than that one incident.

I grew up on a farm with only a few friends close by. For the most part I was alone. As I grew older I began to experiment sexually with other boys my age. For them it was no big deal but for me it was very exciting. It provided me with the opportunity to connect with other males in a way that was very intimate–something I missed from my dad.

I tried to reach out to girls but every time I was shot down. Somewhat paradoxically, most of my cousins were girls and I began to bond with them instead of other boys. The lesson I learned from the rejection by girls and the experimentation with boys was that sex for me was meant to be with men. This is what led me into the homosexual lifestyle. I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was gay. I felt it was wrong and pleaded with God to take it away from me but it was always there.

It was during these years that my dad began to reach out to me. I can remember him coming into the living room with me and watching ETV specials on Opera and other forms of musical theatre. I didn’t realize it at the time but this was the beginning of healing for me. This man that did not understand his son took the time to meet me where I was and show interest in the things important to me. But, the same sex attractions continued. I had become comfortable with them even though I wanted them to disappear

My high school years were not pleasant. I did not fit in and never had many friends at school. My weight was a problem and I suffered from low self esteem. I committed my life to Christ when I was 12 but never felt a close connection with God. I had asked him to take this away from me and when He did not I became angry. To this day I have no desire to go to high school reunions. I wish everyone I went to high school with a great life and see them from time to time but the hurt and memories of high school are so unpleasant that I choose to avoid reunions.

After high school I went to college at Brevard College in North Carolina. I studied music and was an average student. I tasted alcohol for the first time and realized I liked it. I met a girl named Linda who became my best friend. Linda was very wild. She smoked and drank and was a lot like the “boys.” She had a boyfriend, Marty, and the three of us were always together. On a trip with her and Marty, she hooked me up with a girl friend of hers. An evening of drinking and petting led to a failed attempt to have sex. I found Linda and told her we needed to talk. We went out to her car and while sitting on the hood I said for the first time the words. “I’m gay.” Linda looked shocked but then said she loved me anyway and that everything would be okay. I felt like a huge burden had been lifted from me. Finally I had admitted my truth.

When I returned to Columbia I went to my first gay bar. I felt so free and everyone seemed to be having such a great time. I actually got the nerve to ask someone to dance. He said yes and then told me he was straight and out with his brother!! I could not believe that the first guy I asked to dance was straight!!
I made up stories about girls to tell my parents so they would think that I was dating. All the while I was going to gay bars. I returned to Brevard but got very sick with mono. I had to return home but I had experienced my first taste of “freedom.”

I had shared that I was gay with my cousin and my brother and the pastor at the Church I grew up in but not with my parents. One night I wanted to go to a basketball game and then to a bar, but my parents told me to come home right after the basketball game. I got very angry and announced to my mom and dad that I was gay. My dad sat up in his chair and said “you’re what?” My mom started crying and got the Bible and quickly read the verses in Romans. She said she would go to hell for me. I wanted to leave but my parents told me to go to bed and we would talk about it the next day. The pastor came to the house the next day and talked to me in a very loving way. But, I was not interested in hearing what he had to say.

A woman in Columbia, the president of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays) provided me with literature that was supposed to help me prove to my parents that I was okay. That night after some time at a bar, I returned home determined to share the material with my parents.

My Mom was waiting up for me and Dad was out looking for me… My mom and I had a very big scene and then dad came in. I asked them to look at the materials. My dad was standing by me and slapped the materials from my hands. He reached back to hit me for the first time in my life. Then, he stopped himself grabbed me and started to cry. He just kept saying don’t you know how much I love you… To this day I remember the broken heart of my sweet father and the way he loved me. He just could not bring himself to hit me and I knew I was loved.

I moved out and lived with a cousin of mine and began a pattern of going out to bars every night and drinking. But my dad and I agreed to have lunch once a week. I looked forward to those lunches. Once he told me that the elders of the Church told him not to have anymore to do with me. But, he said, he could not do that because I was his son. Neither of my parents cut ties with me and will always be grateful for that. We did love each other and love won the battle in the end.

I moved to Charleston and the same old routine of bars and emptiness resumed. I came to Columbia for a drag show. I left to return to Charleston about 1 a.m. On the way I was overwhelmed with despair. I just lost it and wanted to run my car off the road. Instead I called the one place I knew I could find love. My parents told me to come home and I agreed. I was drifting without motivation or focus, but, I was home. My pastor told me that I needed to get to work. I needed to do manual work. Now that I look back on it there was some truth to what he was saying. I never had really learned how to be a man.

My parents set me up with a Christian counselor in Columbia. It was a good thing for me. For the first time someone actually listened to what I had to say. I felt like I was cared about. But, the same sex attractions continued. My parents convinced themselves that I had changed and I decided not to tell them the truth. I did repent and asked God to guide me. For about 6 months I stayed from the bars but eventually I started going again. During all of this time I would date guys from time to time but the relationships never lasted and were very empty.

I joined the US Navy reserves in hopes that this would help. I was not a very good recruit and needless to day it didn’t change anything. In fact, I found many other gays in the military and we would go out to bars together. The navy also found out that I could sing and I was honored to sing at the USO in Orlando while in boot camp and also at pass in review. I received two letters of commendation because of this and my mom has the letters to this day.

When I returned from active duty in the Navy Reserves I decided to give college another try. I returned to Brevard and started going out to bars in Asheville. I continued to drink. But, I did much better in school and did get a two year degree from Brevard. After school there I transferred to Appalachian State in Boone NC. These would be the years that I would become a militant gay.

My first semester at ASU I met a young man. We began a relationship–one that I had longed for. As the weeks and months passed by I could not believe that we were still together. All the other relationships I had been a part of only lasted for a week or two but this one was working. I was happy and I thought we would be together for life. After our first year in school we decided to move in together. Life seemed good.

I didn’t go to Church and faith seemed unimportant. Yet, there was always something nagging at my heart. I decided to research matters of faith as it relates to homosexuality and actually started to study the Bible. I came to the conclusion that the Bible supports same sex relationships and used David and Jonathan as well as Ruth and Naomi as examples. I became active in the gay student organization on campus and was the vice president. I took part in my first gay pride march in Asheville and started attending the MCC (Metropolitan Community Church) in Johnson City TN. I was working several jobs and was still in the Navy Reserves.

My partner was not comfortable with me becoming “too gay.” and our relationship suffered. I also discovered that he was cheating on me. After almost 3 years the relationship ended. My dream of that perfect relationship was shattered.

I became even more active in gay activities on campus and decided we needed a MCC Church in Boone. There was a dear female friend that wanted to be a pastor in the MCC Church and was studying to become ordained. We started a Bible study in my home that eventually developed into a Church. I believe the church still meets.

That spring that the march on Washington was scheduled. and several of us decided to go. I was excited and looked forward to the trip. Several of the folks in our group “hooked up.” But, I did not. The day of the march I waited in a field with thousands of other gay people. It was quite a picture–women walking around topless; men making cat calls to other men. I began to feel uncomfortable. As the time came for the state of NC to begin its walk I decided that I just could not go through with it. At what should have been my most “gay moment,” I backed out. I returned to the house and watched the rally on TV. It was at that moment that I turned my back not on the gay community but on homosexuality. I just did not realize it at the time. I returned to Boone.

My father’s health had begun to deteriorate. When I called my mom to ask for some money, she told me that dad was in the hospital. I came home to spend what would be the last week of my dad’s life. My dad got out of the hospital and we were able to spend some time together. We never talked about my life but we did many other things together. We both enjoyed football and one afternoon we rode together to the University of South Carolina football stadium and just sat there and talked about football. We listened to music and we just loved each other. The memories I have of the last week still warm my heart.

Somehow my mom found out that I was still involved in the gay lifestyle. Mom sat me down and told me that she knew the truth. She said that I needed to return to NC and live my life as I saw fit. I returned to Boone and a day later my brother called. My dad had gone home. I feel the loss to this day. I drove home mourned with my family. I sat with my family at his funeral and I sang at the top of my breaking voice at this funeral. I honored the man that had touched so many. We decided that I should return home. I moved in with my mom and we respected each other. She never said anything about my going out but I knew she did not approve.

Eventually I got a job in Columbia that paid well enough so I moved out. I lived with another guy and rented a room from him. I was pretty disciplined about and did not go out during the week. I worked hard and became involved with the MCC church in Columbia. I also participated in the gay pride parade in and sang for the reception. I sang for a gay wedding at the MCC Church and life seemed to be on a steady pace. I did date from time to time but once again it was very empty.

During this period of time two events came into my life that were emotionally devastating. First a good friend had been attacked and thrown off a parking garage. This was my first encounter with gay bashing and I was deeply hurt.

Second, I was asked to participate in the bicentennial celebration of a local church. I was to play the role of my ancestor who had played an important role in the life of the church and of the city. My homosexuality was known to the church where I was officially a member. I have asked for a transfer of membership but was told that I was not a member in good standing. I was also told that I needed to withdraw from the bicentennial celebration or my church will inform that church of my lifestyle. I had been looked forward to performing in the play and was deeply hurt by the incident and deal with that pain even today. I did withdraw to spare my Mom further hurt. I will never forget the feeling of emptiness as I left that Church that afternoon after telling the pastor I had to withdraw.

I became more involved in the gay church and was asked to speak at the Unitarian Church regarding my past and accepted with great anticipation. I stood before those people that Sunday and shared my story. They were very comforting and I felt I was at home. I continued to attend the MCC Church and felt loved and acceptance. But my efforts to find that perfect relationship with a man seemed futile. Finally I met a man from France and I again began to hope that this was the one. To my dismay he had to return to France and I fell into a deep depression. I lost my job. I regained the weight I had lost. At times I just could not even get out of bed. I was forced once again to return home.

Finally, broken, lonely and without any self respect I fell on my face and cried out to God. I did not know what to say except that I needed help and I was tired. I didn’t know it at the time but the healing had begun. My mom asked me if I had repented and I said I had. She cried but I had told her that before so I know there had to be some doubt. I began to study and spend time in fervent prayer. I realized the lies I had been told in the gay community. I was not born gay. Rather the same-sex attractions had developed in me over a period of time. I also realized that it was not my fault. My mom found out about a local chapter of Exodus in Columbia. I decided to call them and thus began a relationship with a wonderful couple that continues to this day.

Several years ago I had met a young lady at a high school football game whose enthusiasm for the game matched mine. One Friday night I saw her come in to the stadium and somehow I ended up sitting beside her. We made some small talk and then I just asked if I were to ask her out would she go. She said “oh sure.” Thanksgiving was approaching and I found out she was not planning on visiting her home in Virginia. With some hesitance she agreed to share Thanksgiving with my family. Neither of us knew for sure if it was a date of not. After the meal and family time we went to a movie. We drove her home and I walked her to her porch. We had that awkward moment when you are not sure if you are to kiss but we did. I returned to my car and the Hallelujah Chorus was playing on the radio. I told her about it but she didn’t believe me. Our next date was the next Friday night. After I kissed her I returned to my car and once again the Hallelujah Chorus was playing. I made her come to the car and listen to it with me. I think I knew then that she was the woman God had for me.

I decided that the time had come to tell her about my past… Following a New Year’s gathering I spoke to her. All I said was that I was involved in the gay lifestyle for many years, but that I had repented and was now seeking God’s direction in my life. I will never forget her reaction. She simply put her little finger to my lips and said “God forgives you as far as the east is from the west. Who am I to do to any less?” I had never been told anything like that that in my life.

We continued to date and attended the Exodus meetings on a regular basis. I found a lot of healing in the stories of others that were struggling with the same issues. Some were married. Most had not been involved to the degree I was in the lifestyle. But we all were seeking freedom.

I asked Emily to marry me and she said yes. As we approached our wedding day and night I began to face the fact that I had never been with a woman except for the one time that was a complete failure. I worried how I would perform as a man and what she would think of me.

Our wedding was magical. She was so beautiful and I fell in love with her all over again as she walked down the aisle. I had joined the Church Emily was attending and has already told the pastor my story. His unconditional love still amazes me… But, I still faced the wedding night. While I don’t want to get into specifics our wedding night was not successful. I now know that I had put too much pressure on myself. But, my sweet wife just held me and allowed me to cry. The following day on the way to our next stop I read a book by Christian authors about sex. Once we arrived I relaxed and the rest as they say is history.

The act of love between a man and a woman is like nothing I had ever experienced. It was all that it should be and it was because of the love of my wife and the grace of my savior. We settled into daily life. There were hard times, but, we worked through them and now I cannot imagine my life without her. Every day I thank God for her. Three years ago we decided to have a baby and on July 19, 2005 our daughter was born, one day before my birthday.

Now, I want to share my story with others. I want those involved in the gay lifestyle to know that there is freedom in Christ. Homosexuality is not a sickness, it is a trap. It is not the nice tidy life that the media shows it to be. It is empty and sad. It is a trap that one can get free from but it is not easy. There are those that say I am living a lie. I would say to them that for the first time in my life I am living the truth. I have said in the past that I am here despite the Church not because of the Church. I hope that my story will help others in the Church to realize that homosexuality is an issue that needs to be addressed. These are people that Christ died for as well. Their souls are valuable to him and he loves them. Most of them are not evil people with an agenda. Most simply want to live their lives in peace. All of them are lost and trapped by a lie that needs to be revealed. It is my prayer that my story will help with the healing process for many.

Thomas

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