If Jesus showed up to have dinner with sinners today, New Orleans would definitely be on the menu. I did my fair share of sinning in that city. My first Nawlin’s, nightlife experience was after my 18 birthday. I was on vacation with my uncle and his partner. Bourbon Street to a hormonal, closeted 18-year old boy is like Vegas to a seedy, out of town businessman. We ate and shopped, a lot. One evening my uncle’s partner Joe decided to go out for a drink. I joined him. We went to an upstairs bar on Bourbon Street. Joe ordered his drink. I ordered a beer. Halfway through my beer, I noticed the racy video playing on the TVs overhead. It was my Adam and Eve moment as my eyes were opened. The video was a little more NC-17 than Hallmark Channel. I also noticed that the bar was filled with men that were extremely into one another. Panic was not my first reaction as I realized I was sitting in a gay bar. It was more like Turbo-ridiculous Adrenaline Rush.
Later we wandered to the first floor bar, where someone sent me another beer. Shocked, I asked Joe what to do. “Drink it”, he said. Around 11 pm Joe decided to call it a night. I stayed behind. Adam and Eve may have taken one bite of that Apple, but I spent the night in the Orchard. I met the guy who sent me the beer and invited him to my hotel room. I was 18. He was 29.
Why share any of this? Looking back on my life there were a lot of men who impacted my life negatively. There was Peter, James, Benny, Jamie, Tony, Robin, Joe, etc; an interminable parade of dysfunctional masculinity, littering 3 decades. Out of all those years, I had one older cousin who I felt safe around.
At home, my connection with the men in my life and my own sense of masculinity were under constant assault. My mom complained and badmouthed my father and my brother to me, breaching almost every boundary a mother can with a son. I grew up listening to a consistent, verbal barrage of all things male. My perception was that it wasn’t safe or acceptable to be a boy. I did my best to be as clean, neat and “unboy” like as possible. As a shy, sensitive boy growing up with strong, female influences, the world of men became a foreign place to me.
My father was always busy with my brother. My brother was always in trouble. My mom treated me as a surrogate husband. I was a boy in desperate need of men to lead, love, guide and affirm me. Every male interaction left me disillusioned. Men seemed harsh, angry and disinterested. I told myself I wasn’t like them. I was more comfortable around women. In the world of men I went unnoticed or teased and misunderstood. These early interactions planted further seeds in my mind that I was different than other guys and closer to the lie that I was “born gay”.
Everyone needs a place to belong. I grew up knowing that my uncle was gay, but he was interested in the things I was interested in. His interest in me had little to do with his sexuality. He knew what it felt like to be “different”. When I began to struggle in the confusion of my own broken sexuality, my uncle was the first man that I went to with questions. I didn’t feel safe talking about it with any other man in my life, save the family physician. Truly all I needed was one, Christian man who I could have confided in and felt safe around. A man to hear my story without passing judgment, who would love me as Christ loved me.
God has redeemed my sinful past in homosexuality and has shaped me into the man I always needed. The man that others are still in desperate need of. There are others out there like me. Are you one of them? My great hope is for Christian men to join me on this journey. There is a world of young men being led astray by their feelings and by a world that esteems “happiness” more highly than “righteousness”. My constant prayer is that God will bring good men into my life and the life of the guys I mentor. Before we ever stand in opposition to the gay community, we should first kneel before God and pray for their deliverance.
Proverbs 27:17 “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”