On September 11, 2001, I woke up out of a drunken stupor and turned on the TV. Immediately I started crying. It reminded me that the Lord is coming back in judgment (Matthew 24:37-39). Having no peace, I was terrified.
For work, I moved from Pittsburgh to Boston to Washington, DC and then back to Pittsburgh. My gay life peaked in the bigger cities and then slowed down in Pittsburgh where gay life was less distracting. I was alone with my thoughts.
Cursing and screaming at my family, I had pushed away those who would not actively endorse my lifestyle. One day on Facebook, Christians tried to tell me that I needed to repent. I viciously attacked them. I hated the church.
Over time, my fantasy world became a nightmare. It seemed like almost every time I entered a gay bar, I heard of yet another suicide or overdose. Sometimes we did not know for sure what happened, just that another person was gone.
More sin seemed to temporarily decrease the severity of depression. I competed against my personal records. Each trip was intended to outdo the prior. So I planned a trip to San Francisco for my birthday (1/1/2010). Idea was to “airlift” myself out of depression. From designer scarfs, boots and watches to irreplaceable vintage finds, everything that was important to me was packed into one suitcase. “The Castro ain’t ready for this, honey! She’s fierce!” Albeit jokingly, I often referred to myself and other males as “she”.
My self-worth was tied to youth, sex appeal and fashion sense- as best displayed through themed outfits. On the plane, charm earned free drinks. Airport taxi van stopped facing downward on a signature San Francisco slope. From outside the cab, I reached back inside to pay the driver. His fingers yanked the bill, as the van door slammed shut and the taxi sped away with my bag! I stood there catatonic. Everything was gone. I felt naked.
In my mind, the challenge was remarkably clear: “Who are you now (without your ‘things’)?” To a friend, I referred to the energy behind this challenge as, “The universe”. I had lingered far from the Lord I knew as a child to follow my heart.
I had a choice to make- fight or go home? In the morning, I gathered essentials at a thrift store. I did choose to fight. But on that trip, I also took risks that indicated the desperation I was feeling.
Disappointed because I had not found anyone to take back to the hotel on my birthday, I was walking back from a club when strangers invited me into a house for seafood. They treated me like family. Unusual things were happening often.
Back home, I got a puppy who looked just like Snoopy. I let few people get close to me but loved that dog. When I was a little boy, my mom hand-painted my bedroom wall with a Snoopy scene. It seemed like someone was trying to take my mind back to childhood- maybe when things were simpler and more innocent. One day, we came inside from playing. Snoopy stopped in front of a mirror, looked at himself for a few seconds and wagged his tail. I hated myself. But that day, I got the impression that it was ok to like myself.
From relationships to casual sex, everything I tried ended in failure and misery. I was fed up with gay life and had stopped taking it seriously. I had no respect for gay men and had a score to settle with them as a collective. I was enslaved to lust, bitter toward the gay world, bitter toward the church. I was proven wrong but did not want to admit it. I was at the end of myself. Frustrated and depressed, I was bleeding internally from stomach ulcers and having heart palpitations from cocaine use. Youth was fading, and my days were numbered. Where do we go from here?
Beginning prior to the financial crisis in 2007, I had been intimately involved in integrations related to bank acquisitions. Occasionally I recalled being taught of the end times Bible prophecy of “One world bank”. End times prophecy scared me. Without substances, I could not sleep at night. I had no peace.
On May 28, 2010, a young guy I had met online was coming from New Jersey by train to spend the weekend with me. This type of thing was my norm. After work, I was preparing with sit-ups on my filthy apartment floor next to a dirty ash tray. Living a fantasy, I tried to present myself well in public. Up and down… up and down… there was a tightness in my chest. Reminders of end times prophecies, such as ‘earthquakes in diverse places’ (Matthew 24), streamed through my head. The war over the soul of a man was underway, and Satan would not let go without a fight. He spoke lies. I knew that the Lord is coming back in judgment and that I was not ready. But liberation required surrender. I had a choice to make.
Suddenly I said ‘Ok’ or ‘Yes’ and surrendered to Jesus. It was like hollering, “Uncle!” I am not sure if I said it aloud or in my spirit. Literally I felt the burden lift from me. First thing I did was to stand up and look at myself in the mirror. I saw a genuine smile that did not require assistance from alcohol, drugs or sex. As remembered from childhood, I later prayed the sinner’s prayer on my knees at the side of the bed to make my decision official. I felt like a lump of bones that had been beaten for years. I could finally sleep without substances. Jesus had given me what the Bible calls “the peace that passes understanding”.
Jesus brought revolution to my life that day. Did I follow Him perfectly afterwards? No. A much anticipated international trip was planned two weeks from that point. Although I considered cancelling, I went. Through heavy turbulence on the return flight, I was filled with fear. I ultimately repented and started over. He later would reveal my identity in Him and the enduring satisfaction that comes with following Jesus. Praise the Lord for His grace, mercy and abundant life in Him.
Following my deceitful heart led me off a cliff. Jesus guides down a narrow, difficult path that leads to eternal life (John 10:10). Today I walk by faith and not by sight. His Word says that man and woman should be together, not man and man (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Today I trust Jesus for a wife.
“So if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.” – John 8:36