I wanted to get some information about my feelings, so I went to the huge downtown Multnomah County Library in Portland, one of my favorite hangouts. I found, to my dismay, that all the books about homosexuality were locked behind the librarian’s desk, to protect their precious knowledge from inquiring minds like mine. How did I know to look up books on “homosexuality”, when I didn’t even think I was gay? I wanted information on sex of all kinds. I wanted information, and to be quite honest, some stimulation. But, at the same time the church talked about “virtue”, “purity”, and “chastity” in very vague terms. I had no idea what they were talking about, but the message I got was that if I ever lost my “virginity”, the world would end, and I would be cast off into outer darkness. From the books that I did find on the open shelves, I was able to glean that most boys do go through a stage of same-sex attraction and idol worship, or even masturbate together, but this was just a stage that boys went through. I thought that maybe if I was “righteous” enough, these feelings would go away.
I later learned two very important lessons:
(1) You cannot ask God to change you. You have to change yourself. God respects and even treasures your free agency. He will not interfere with your life choices. What God will do is put you in situations where you are forced to develop the necessary character attributes you pray for.
(2) It is futile to ask God to “fix” something in you that isn’t broken. God can’t even put you in situations that force you to fix something that isn’t a problem, or that other people consider a problem. However, God will put you in situations that force you to get to know yourself better, and to develop healthy attitudes about yourself, and develop traits you never even knew you had. For example, this “gay” thing eventually ceased to be a problem for me. I was no longer disturbed by it, neither was I obsessed with it. I came to accept it as but one of the many facets of my personality. And, speaking of personality, I had always considered myself a hateful, angry person, but I soon learned that I had a great deal of love to offer, and people responded to that love. This realization completely turned my life around.
I didn’t have any idea about sex, and never had any form or sex or masturbation. I was really a virgin. I didn’t know what I would do with a man if I were alone with one anyway. In fact, I had no idea what sex even was. The first time I ever heard about sex in any kind of detail was from a couple of straight boys, on a Boy Scout camping trip, no less! To me, it’s laughable that parents want to protect their sons from the gay “predators”. It was these straight guys who put the idea in my head, and the thought was utterly revolting, as it is to many, when they hear it for the first time at a very young age.
I overheard somebody at high school, (it could have been one of these same hot football guys in my Physics class), laughing about some magazines they found at Rich’s Cigar Stand in downtown Portland. They said they were like Playboy, only they had pictures of naked men. They called them “Playgirl”, even though there was no Playgirl magazine at the time. My German teacher also mentioned there were some German magazines down at Rich’s Cigar Stand, so I decided to go down and check them out for myself. I bought a German magazine called Stern. It was like Life magazine. Then I checked out the adult magazines. Back in those days, they didn’t hide the adult magazines in some smelly back room. They put them all together in a big rack, right by the entrance — gay magazines in one section, and straight magazines in another section. When I picked up a gay magazine, I started to tremble; my hands shook; and my mouth went dry. Yes, I was interested, but I never bought any of those magazines. But, I would drop by and look at the magazines again, whenever I was downtown.
I started getting “thoughts”, but I never acted on those thoughts. Still, I felt guilty for having them, and I tried all the “pray away the gay” stuff, like redoubling my efforts to be active in the church and fast and pray more, etc.