I grew up on a small family farm in western Illinois, in a family with seven children. I have an identical twin brother and he has never struggled with homosexuality. Our father had a problem with alcohol, was unfaithful as a husband to his wife and was an absent father in the lives of his children. When I was in college our parents divorced and dad was forced to quit farming. I still feel that I had a pretty normal and uneventful childhood, but the choices I made and the things I did certainly had consequences. Although homosexuality has been a big part of my life, I am very grateful I was never a part what is usually called the “homosexual lifestyle.” For me the biggest struggle has been in believing I was a homosexual. Although there have been a small number of same-sex sexual encounters with others. I talk about four events that led me into the bondage homosexuality and freedom from homosexuality. I hope as you read about them, you will keep into perspective that homosexuality is a relationship issue. The need for same-sex intimacy cannot be met in physical sexual acts. They are an illegitimate way of meeting the legitimate need for same-sex intimacy.
The two events in my childhood that I feel strongly influenced my belief I was a homosexual are typical in the lives of many other males who struggle with homosexuality. The first is a failure to bond with the same-sex parent, and results in a young boy from a very age feeling that they are different from other boys. I cannot say this, but there was a point in time at about ten years of age that I made this vow to myself. “I would not be like that man.” That man was my father, who was unfaithful as a husband to his wife and was an absent father in the lives of his children. In willfully rejecting my father as a man, I chose to cut myself off from what should be the most influential man in a young boy’s life. The bonding in the relationship between a father and his son is very important. And perhaps this is the most important relationship in the lives of all boys and continues throughout their entire life, the relationship between a father and his son. This is the man who is to role model and teaches the young boy what it means to grow into manhood. In this relationship the boy learns how to build relationships with other men, women and as an adult to his own wife and children.
A second event was an early and inappropriate sexual activity. This too is typical in the lives of many who struggle with homosexuality. No one can deny the pleasure of sex. These pleasures may be experienced with members of both sexes. Our bodies will respond to sexual cues and stimuli from members of the same sex. The question that needs to be asked is not, “can I do this?” But rather it is, “should I do this?” For the young boy who is struggling with other relationship issues sexual activity with a member of the same sex, whether it is voluntary with peers or forced upon him by others who are of whatever age is very damaging. For in them the young boy is experiencing an illegitimate way of meeting the legitimate need for same-sex intimacy. The adolescent male body naturally responds to sexual stimuli be it mental, visual, or physical. This natural response is especially confusing and harmful when it is a part of sexual abuse. In my life sexual activity was voluntary with peers around the age of 12, lasting only a few months and in a small number of encounters. But they were very damaging in that they partially fulfilled my needs for same-sex intimacy, but in an illegitimate way. These two events in my childhood are the roots of that which later became a struggle with homosexuality.
The two events in my life as an adult that led me to freedom from the bondage of homosexuality were seeking help to overcome my struggle with homosexuality and the response of friends to my struggle with homosexuality. While living in southern California in the late 1980s I was a part of support group program for men and women trying to overcome homosexuality. I was living and working at a Christian camp and the program was through a church. But what I feel needs to be emphasized is that I did not tell friends that I was asking for help to overcome my own personal struggle with homosexuality. My friends thought I was the one offering support to others to overcome homosexuality. By not telling friends I failed to allow them into the part my life that was reflected in who I thought I was a homosexual. My struggle with homosexuality although not known by many others affected my life, it was manifested in my relationships with others. It could be seen that at times I was an angry, bitter, and cold person. I allowed others to enter into fairly shallow relationships with me. My life could be seen as motivated by a “performance mentality.” It was measured by what I did for others and not what I allowed others to do for me. Larry was a nice guy, but he would not allow others to respond in like matter. More importantly I internally rejected many of those ways that others attempted to express kindness towards me. My relationships where experienced in a one-way nature, Larry manifested relationship toward others by performance and not the give and take of healthy relationships. I cannot deny the help I was receiving from this support group program, but I limited it to those who were broken in the same way as I was. I did not make myself vulnerable to others not broken in the same way as I was, so I was not applying what I was learning.
A second event took place as a result homosexual activity on my part. I was expelled from a small Lutheran seminary with one semester to go before graduation because of homosexual activity my first year, A classmate reported to the seminary of my homosexual activity the first year. Finally at the age of 36 I placed myself in a position of vulnerability, telling some good friends of my struggle with homosexuality. Their response was of unwavering acceptance. But for me, my response was one of doubt and frustration. In their response they separated the person from the behavior, and this was one thing I had never been able to do myself. I had always thought of myself as a homosexual. After being informed in a morning meeting by the seminary of my dismissal, I spent the afternoon telling six good friends of my dismissal. After telling these six men why I was expelled from seminary, each of them had the same thing to say, word for word, as their very first comments in response to my story. In some aspects this was very unnerving, but exactly what I needed to get my attention. Their words were. “Larry I know you have a problem Larry you are not a homosexual.” All six friends without any thought on their part told me these two statements, word for word. I cannot say there was an instant change in my life, where I no longer struggled with homosexuality. But this was an instrumental change and key to leading me where I am today. It was a beginning of a process of growth and maturity in how I related to myself and to others. This change has resulted, as I have finally understood the critical distinction. It is not who one is, a homosexual but what one does, homosexuality.
I hope as you had read about these four events in my life that you have been able to keep into perspective that homosexuality is a relationship issue. The need for same-sex intimacy cannot be met in physical sexual acts. They are an illegitimate way of meeting the legitimate need for same-sex intimacy. Same-sex intimacy is more then the sum total of emotions and physical acts. Intimacy between members of the same sex results from interacting in healthy and appropriate ways for building relationship.