The next post in this series on identity is from John Smid. John is the Director of Grace Rivers Ministry in Germantown, TN. John is married to his wife of 22 years, Vileen, and the proud father of two children and four grandchildren.
As a child there was little discussion about homosexuality. I recognized that there was something different about me all through my childhood that I didn’t understand. I didn’t relate well to most other boys however I did have a few kids I hung out with. As many kids do, we had some exploration of our bodies and sexuality but that didn’t dominate our relationships.
When I reached adulthood I had many relationship challenges with other guys. I found emotional attractions to be inordinately strong and felt a lot of pain through some of those relationships that didn’t come to fulfill my deeper needs. As the pain increased I made the decision to pursue a marriage with a girl I dated throughout high school. I continued to remain naive about my own sexuality but I thought this would take the focus off of that.
I believed in God, and had an intellectual understanding of Jesus, but it wasn’t a primary focus of my life. I went to church all through my childhood and adolescence and when I got married at 19 years old, I no longer made going to church a part of my life.
When my marriage became increasingly dissatisfying and painful I found fantasies grew towards the men I found attractive. My fantasies primarily focused on emotional desires. As these increased, so did the confusion and frustration with my marriage and friendships in general.
I looked around my neighborhood realizing that I had little in common with the other men. I talked with them, sometimes played games or hung out in the neighborhood, but I remained confused as to how to connect.
But one day something switched on. I must be homosexual! As I admitted that to myself, I admitted this to another man that I knew was gay. That conversation led to sexual discussion and subsequently my first homosexual encounter opened up the possibilities that I could have a relationship with a man.
After a divorce and a couple of years searching for the man of my dreams I was introduced to a new concept of Jesus. A personal relationship, a change of faith and principle. A brand new order to life now hung on the Bible and the saving grace of Jesus Christ. I took this to mean I should search for a Christian homosexual relationship. That is the missing piece!
After finding the man of my dreams, my dysfunctional soul ruined that relationship and I was alone again. I began to realize that spending my life searching for a man had come to its end.
I became committed to singleness searching for a deeper relationship with God and a better life for myself. As this search continued I discovered a culture of other men who had found “ex-gay” ministry to be a replacement for the bars and illicit affairs. In this place it seemed there may be a change from our homosexuality into something different. It may not be heterosexuality, but we could somehow find our place within the normal flow of culture. It might be a kind of “pseudo heterosexuality”.After a couple of years, I married a lady I had developed a good relationship with and found camaraderie in our personal journeys. We understood each other and connected in our experiences with being formerly married and having lived in sexual and relational promiscuity.
After 22 years of living virtually every waking minute in a sub culture of ex-gay ministry I resigned from my leadership position searching for something that God might lead me into for the final twenty years of my life. I began to evaluate my previous 30 years wondering what I would venture into next.
I was totally surprised at the leading of God into this next season. It appeared that He was opening the doors to an even deeper understanding of my homosexuality. It became for me a kind of second “coming out.” I came to grips that there had been no change in my sexual attractions and emotional desires. I remained in a strange place with relationships with other men and continued to experience confusion in how to somehow make all of this work.
I had been married now for 22 years. My relationship with my wife remained faithful and held a strong commitment to each other’s life and growth into maturity. We had somehow made it work in a “mixed orientation” marriage even though we didn’t have any words like that to describe it previously.
But now I have more courage to be honest about who I am, what I experience, and where my identity lies. In the deepest and most significant places in my heart, as a Christian, I identify with Christ. In my soul, I am knitted to my wife deeply. But, I also admit that I am a homosexual.
While I was involved in ex-gay ministry, I wrote an article titled “Exploring the Homosexual Myth”. In the article I stated that “there is no such thing as a homosexual person, just homosexual behavior”. I clearly see now, how this completely dismisses the reality of the homosexual experience. Today I admit that a homosexual identity does not have so much to do with my actions or my sexual behavior. It is about who I am at a very deep level in my being. During my childhood, I had no tools or ability to sort through being homosexual, and the intrinsic differences I felt as a child. The more honest I become about this in my life, the more I come to understand my sexuality, my world view, and a life filter that hangs on my own homosexual experience.