The following is a blog post I wrote on March 31, 2016. It’s probably the most personal thing I’ve ever posted here, and to be honest, It’s difficult for me to read. I’m in a much brighter, more hopeful place today, and I’m so very grateful. But there were many dark times along the way, and I think it’s important to remember where I’ve been.
As I’ve come out and been open with my story, so many gay men have contacted me, so many husbands hiding in their straight marriages and ministries. My heart breaks for you, my friends. And for your wives and families. I remember.
“Careful What You Wish For”
Here’s the thing. I got what I wanted.
All through my childhood, all though high school, all through college, I wanted one thing: to “pass.” I had my doubts that I would ever actually be straight, but I thought I could get away with passing as straight. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be married. I wanted to have children. I wanted to be in ministry.
I got what I wanted. By the time I was 30 years old, I had been married for eight years, had four beautiful kids and was working in my first full-time church job. I had no interest in being gay. I couldn’t imagine living “out and proud.” I had no frame of reference for that kind of freedom. All I knew was that I was pulling it off. My wife, my kids, my friends and colleagues didn’t know that I was gay. I was doing what I had always wanted to do.
Except I was miserable.
I was living two lives. After everyone had gone to sleep, or when I was on an out-of-town trip… I was so hungry for gay sexual expression. Porn ruled my life, eating up my time, consuming my thoughts, leading me to risky behavior in strange neighborhoods just to obtain the next magazine or video… And after every “acting out” spree, I felt empty, sick, perverted. I hated myself. I knew that God was disgusted with me too. I was failing myself, my family, my church, my God.
I finally worked up the courage to come out. At least as far out as I could at the time. I told a close friend that I was “same-sex attracted,” and then I told my wife, then my boss and colleagues. We told leaders in our denomination. I wanted honesty, authenticity, freedom.
And it was tough, but it was a huge relief. I found love and acceptance. I found people willing to walk with me through this difficult time. But we were all working under the same misguided assumption: that “same-sex attracted” people could be healed, that we could find freedom from this temptation to sin. And not only was that our assumption. It was our condition. I could stay in ministry IF. And man, was I willing to try. I gave it my all: reading and journaling and counseling and 12-step groups and Exodus ministries.
I gave myself to this pursuit for ten years. And here’s the challenging thing: I was relatively happy. I had purpose. I was following the will of God. My wife and I were fighting this evil together. Maybe it didn’t “feel” right to me, maybe it wasn’t “natural,” but it was good and righteous. And I was slowly being healed… I really believed that.
Until I didn’t anymore.
So here I am, all these years later. I’m miserable again. It’s like I’m staring reality in the face. There is no “healing” for gay people, at least not healing that looks anything like genuine heterosexuality.
And I’m facing the reality that my wife and I, even though we have this long history together, even though we have been faithful and tenacious in our relationship, even though we have these beautiful kids together… We will never have sexual and emotional intimacy like husbands and wives usually do. No authentic romance. We will always have to settle for this, to live with “good enough.”
Maybe there is hope for a better future on the other side of a divorce. Could we each be actually happier and more fulfilled if we let each other go? And how miserable would that be in the meantime?
I live my life in limbo, longing for change, longing for authenticity and real intimacy, intimacy that feels real and right to me. But feeling trapped by my vocation, my financial situation, my marriage, my reputation.
And I am haunted by something a friend said to me yesterday: “All of this yearning and wondering will get us nowhere.”
Be careful what you wish for.