BRIAN BARLOW

BRIAN BARLOW

I heard about a program that helps individuals overcome unwanted same-sex attraction. It offered me freedom and clarity.
— BRIAN BARLOW

I grew up hiding my same-sex attractions from others because I felt that it wouldn’t be right for me to act on them. But after college, I sought out a counselor and talked about my same-sex feelings and resulting internal conflict for the first time. After meeting with him for a few months, he looked at me and said, "Well, maybe you should go to the gay bars in Chicago. That might be how God created you." I was 21, and his response devastated me.

       Early in my life, I’d been ridiculed by family members and peers for behaviors they believed were feminine, but my defense was I didn’t have any homosexual experiences. I was looking for someone to confirm my belief and hope that this was not my identity. Instead, the counselor I met with held the door open to homosexuality and said there was no hope for change. So, I acted on that out of desperation for connection and began to live as a homosexual in the gay community.

       This opened a door to sexual behaviors that I didn’t have peace in pursuing and emotional and relational confusion. The despair I felt further disintegrated my ability to relate as a whole person, and I became overly sexualized, separating me from my family, faith community, and friends. I became void of an identity, following after anyone who paid attention to me. I was vulnerable to abuse by others because I was desperate for love and had no boundaries.

       I  purchased and read faith-based books that told the stories of other people who had unwanted same-sex attractions. Then I heard about a church that offered a program to help individuals overcome unwanted same-sex attraction, so I paid for and enrolled in the program. It offered me freedom and clarity. For the first time in my life, I had language to describe what I was experiencing.

       Afterwards, I connected with more people whom I could trust with my story and who helped counsel me through it. I pursued help and encouragement through groups that met to process same-sex attractions. Emotionally healthier, I began to experience attraction for women. My same-sex desires no longer captivated me and consumed my thoughts. My confidence grew as I began to live out my God-given gender identity, fully male.

       It was then that I met my wife at church. The clarity I received in my journey to wholeness made it possible to step into this relationship. We married six months later. Six years later, we have two children and are expecting our third.

       For several years we owned and operated a faith-based art gallery in Palm Springs, California. There we built relationships with individuals in the LGBTQ community. The arts gave us common ground to talk about faith and identity. Individuals would come back again and again, as we shared our story of hope. My life today may seem impossible to some, but I am more alive than I could have ever imagined.

LIZ  FLAHERTY

LIZ FLAHERTY

RODGER GASKIN

RODGER GASKIN

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