Tuesday, March 24, 2009
This is the true confession of Rollie II delos Reyes, head of Courage Philippines, as told to Judith Concepcion and published in the Kerygma Magazine March 2009 issue.
"I was ditched in the well of homosexuality until someone sent me a rope."
I HATED MEN. My hatred for them started when I was five. My male classmates teased me because of my unclear speech due to my harelip. My male cousins and uncle called me names like lampayatot (feeble and skinny), pangit (ugly), and bakla (gay) – they were harsh and mean, I thought to myself. I started viewing men as bad and vicious creatures that meant only harm and from whom I must flee. I then closed myself to anything male.
It didn’t help that I grew up in the company of women. My family lived in a compound dominated by females and my playmates were my female cousins. Though there were male figures around, none of them taught me the ways of men or affirmed my masculinity. They concerned themselves mainly with work and left the care of the home to the women. As a young boy, I unconsciously looked for the male authority figure at home but I saw that in my mother. The other women in the family appeared to be able to control their children better than their husbands.
I was effeminate because I acquired the behavior of my female cousins. But because of the ruthless teasing of my male cousins, I clung more and more to my feminine ways and thinking.
I had a distorted view of what a real man should be: handsome, muscular, strong, not accident-prone, energetic and not sickly. I didn’t possess any of these qualities, thus it reinforced the message that I wasn’t man enough. I began to embrace other people’s negative opinion of me as truth.
Slowly, I became aware that I was different. When I studied in an exclusive male school, I was a loner until I found a group of friends who shared the same interest as mine: same sex attraction.
The Beginning of the Gay Life
When I reached puberty, my innocent crushes turned into lustful admiration. I engaged in sexual fantasies whenever I read mushy magazines. These became more graphic when I discovered the pornographic video tapes of my father, which I watched every time my parents were not around.
I had my first sexual encounter with a male neighbor when I was 14. These encounters continued for a year until that fateful day when my parents caught us in the act right in the dining hall of our house. I was filled with great fear, guilt, remorse and anger.
The gnawing guilt made me repress these same-sex attractions and the sexual sins for the rest of my high school years. Although I went to confession, that, for me, wasn’t enough to blot out my sins. I felt I needed to serve God more as reparation for my wrongdoings so I busied myself with different religious activities. Whenever I was tempted, I flagellated myself by praying the rosary, going to Mass, not eating lunch, or walking home.
Adopting the Gay Lifestyle
After high school, I gave up the opportunity to study in the University of the Philippines or the University of Santo Tomas. I chose to enter the seminary. Aside from my desire to bring back my father to the Catholic faith, I thought that entering fully into the Lord’s service would make me forget my same-sex attractions.
When I entered the seminary, I thought I was safe because my mind was preoccupied with the things of God. But when the counseling course was offered, my repressed longings for male affirmation resurfaced – and so did my sexual urges. After a few months, I had sexual encounters with two seminarians.
I left the seminary and entered the liberal world of UP. I read gay literature and began to explore the gay lifestyle. After college, I worked as a high school teacher. My gay co-teachers taught me about the heights of gay life. I went to gay clubs, bathhouses, etc. I had sexual encounters with every Tom, Dick, and Harry – anytime and anywhere.
I became a sex and love addict. I was in search for true love but I ended up being exploited. They were just after my money or sexual pleasure. The four long years of living the gay life was filled with rejections from men (straight and gays), insecurities, depression, danger, and near-death experiences. I felt bad after every encounter but I thought that rejection was part of being gay.
I thought I was happy. After one lustful night in a bar, I asked my friend, “Ganito na lang ba tayo hanggang pagtanda natin? (Will we remain like this until we’re old?)” The deafening silence revealed a deep sadness and emptiness in my soul.
I began to search for God and to look for the answers to these questions: Why am I gay? Why am I not happy? Where can I find my true love?
Finding Support Groups
In 1998, I attended a Christian Life Program (CLP) conducted by Singles for Christ (SFC). After I graduated from the CLP, I backslid and left SFC Mandaluyong. When I returned in 2001 to SFC in their Mandaluyong Chapter, I confronted the chapter head, “I'm gay. Do I have a place here in SFC?” He responded, “Of course,” and then hugged me. It was the first time I felt that someone truly cared for me inspite of who I was.
It was in SFC that I found my two best friends and mentors in masculinity – Benj and Biboy – who welcomed me into their accountability circle. They taught me the ways of men and listened and prayed for and with me in my deepest struggles. Through them, I felt genuine acceptance from men.
I had a deep longing to know that I was not alone in my struggle with homosexuality so I searched the net and came across Courage, a spiritual support group for persons with same-sex attractions who wanted to live a chaste life. During the first meeting I attended, I cried because for the first time I was with people who understood from their guts how it was to struggle with homosexuality and lust. It was here that I began to confront my deep-seated issues that surfaced in my counseling course in the seminary but didn’t know how to handle then. That’s when Living Waters entered.
Living Waters is a Christian healing ministry for persons with sexual and relational brokenness. I attended a 25-week healing program. Through the weekly sessions and reading of the books of John Eldredge, a Christian preacher and counselor, God revealed to me these truths: I am His beloved; I am His son, of whom He is well pleased; He has chosen me to carry out an important mission; He has forgiven me.
I stopped flagellating myself for my past sins and received the grace to forgive those who have wronged me.
Struggling to Victory
I liken my homosexual struggle to a man ditched into a well. The farther and deeper the man went down into the well, the more difficult it was for him to get out. In my case, I fell flat all the way to the bottom. I struggled in vain to get out by myself. I was glad that Someone threw me a rope.
I thought God hated me and would never love me until I was perfect. But now I realize that God has always been there. He pursued, watched and protected me even in the darkest places of my sin. He shared my pains, sufferings and rejections, and longed to share His love for me.
The battle is not yet over. I still struggle against lust and homosexuality but it doesn’t permeate my life anymore. It has ceased to be my whole personality; it is now only a thorn in the flesh.
My road to healing may be long and arduous but I’m not giving up. God never gave up on me. And now that I have found Jesus, my One True Love, I have pure joy.
Courage Philippines is a spiritual support system designed to assist men and women struggling with same-sex attraction to live chaste lives through prayer, fellowship, truth and love in obedience to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Courage may be reached through 0928-5066974, 0917-8427434 and email@example.com. Visit also their website and its affiliate organizations: