Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Courageous Brother's Testimony

This was the testimonial that one of our brothers in Courage gave during the NARTH Conference on homosexuality. I salute Bro J. for giving 'face' to our struggle and for his exceptional courage.

My father was an overseas contract worker. By the time my mother gave birth to me, he was not around until I turned five years old.

The first time I saw him, I did not feel like I really want to see him. He was a stranger to me. And I was a stranger to him also. He just looked at me and said, "Oh, you're my youngest son." He did not embrace or kiss me at all. After that encounter, he remained a stranger to me. We did not have any bonding moments at all.

I was raised by three important women in my life - my mother, my aunt who is my father's sister, and my other aunt who is my father's first cousin. I am the youngest in the family of four boys. I grew up in a devout Catholic family and very active in church involvement.

Many have said I was a good son and praised my mother for her way of upbringing me. I was obedient to my parents. I did household chores diligently, I was religious and was academically excelling. I have built a good reputation in our town.

But then again, in having a good image, I asked myself this question, "Did I do it genuinely or was this just a facade to hide something in me that I was ashamed to tell - my same sex attraction, my being homosexual, gay, bading, bakla, and many other labels that people in my surrounding would laughingly tease me. These are the labels I dreaded to hear. I just cannot accept it.

Yet during my teenage years, my same sex attraction began to be more evident and strong. I ignored it. I hated myself for such emotion. I kept on denying it. I was longing for acceptance from my peers. With best effort, I tried to imitate how other boys behave, talk and walk. I was not a good actor. My effeminate behavior seems to be obvious that even if I was not doing anything, others will draw a conclusion that I am gay.

I endured the pain it brought to myself. I could not share it to anyone even to my family to whom I am most afraid to tell.

It was long before I could accept that hard truth that I have gender issues. I was in denial for so many years and it became a heavy burden in my heart. Then I happened to read this book "The Purpose Driven Life." It was then that I realized that being a homosexual doesn't make me a condemned person. I have a choice. I have two options. First, I will not engage in any homosexual acts. I will control my feelings and urges. Second, I will give in to the desires of my heart and learn to live by it. I chose the first option. I remain to live an upright way of life as I believe it.

Then when my job demanded me to work in a distant place and have to work all alone, it was then that I was hooked to a gay networking site and chat room.

Whenever I feel tired or bored, I amuse myself by engaging in gay chatting. I was desiring for a relationship. Yet it only leads me to one night encounters with different strangers. After every encounter, I still feel empty. I said "This is not what I want." My guilt will eventually attack me and I feel bitter and frustrated in the end. After a while, there is again this wishful thinking that perhaps the next one could be the one I am looking for. It becomes a cycle until I get tired of it.

I was at the height of my career when an unexpected incident happened that led to my resignation with the company that I am working for. It was the moment in my life when I was at my lowest. I went home to our province for a vacation to recover from the trauma that it brought me. It was during that month-long vacation when I started to re-establish my personal relationship with God again.

When I was back to Manila to work again, I happened to encounter a support group through the internet. The group is called Courage. It is a group that caters to the needs of persons like me struggling with same-sex attraction and somehow was lost on how to handle it. Without any hesitation, I joined the group.

The wisdom and fellowship I get from the support group was a very liberating experience. I have experienced God's love overflowing through them. The more that I get to know and understand my homosexual issues - its dynamics and root causes, the more that I began to feel okay. Acceptance of it becomes easier then. Knowing also that there are others like me who are also struggling with it and are willing to change, it encourages me more to create a positive change in me.

More than the support group, God leads me also to this healing ministry called Living Waters. There, I learned in depth, the woundings and brokenness I have in my life. There, I understood that my gender issue is just a tip of the iceberg of the many issues I have experienced in the past. I need to address those issues in order for healing to take place. I need God's grace to help me for that.

Truly since I long for healing, God gave me a Christian community where I could establish and nurture healthy relationships especially with the same sex. The brothers made me feel that I am brother. Matter of fact, their way of life influenced me and made me a better man.

I realize I could not do it all alone just as I thought I could. I need support from others. Establishing good relationship with others becomes a healing in itself from all wounds of the past.

I am still attracted with the same sex and perhaps it would be for a lifetime; however, this has not become a big deal anymore. I believe that I still can be a man that God designed me to be. A man that leads, initiates to act on God's will, protects and cares women and children, remembers the commandments of God and upholds it and a warrior against all forms of evil.

To end, let me borrow the words of J.K. Rowling from the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the words that Albus Dumbledore said. "Only in truth will there be understanding, and only in understanding will there be acceptance and only in acceptance will there be recovery."

I have learned the truth and continuously learning. I have understood and accepted it. Now, I am recovering. The gift of my support group and healing ministry and the blessing of my Christian community plays a major role in my healing journey. I will forever treasure and nourish it.

To God be the glory, to Him who perfectly plans my life.

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