Monday, June 18, 2007

"The Book: Painful Flashback"

Note: This may not be one people are comfortable with. If you do not like to hear about various body mutilations, please skip this post.

I am going to jump back in time a bit here. It is part of the process and not something that I am really proud of. I could leave it out, but I think, actually I know, that I am not the only one who has gone through this. Actually, I am better off than most, I made it through the situation uninjured, but others are not so lucky.
What I am talking about is a hatred for my penis. As I type this, it sounds kind of silly, how could someone hate his penis? But I did hate it. Well actually, I think I more hated what it represented. My penis represented my struggle. I believed that if I did not have my penis, I would not have the desire to be with men. No penis = No sex. Pretty straight forward.
I became obsessed with ways to mutilate my penis. I began searching the internet for sites dealing with penile piercing, penile tattooing, and yes, even penile mutilation. This “thing” that was attached to my body I believed was the cause of all my anger, frustration, and pain. If I didn’t have it things wouldn’t be so bad. I wanted to remove it so I wouldn’t have these “nasty” desires. Somehow I made the faulty assumption that if the penis was gone or mutilated, I would not have any sexual desire. And at this point, that was what I wanted, no sexual desire at all.
I wanted no sexual desire because I could not have sexual desire without having desire for men. I did not feel guilty about masturbation, but I did feel guilty about masturbating while thinking of men. With no sexual desire, I would not have to deal with the guilt of feeling things that I knew were not bad but I still felt were sinful in my heart.
This is the legacy of the fundamentalist thought. You are told that what you are feeling is wrong and that to respond to what you are feeling is sinful. But you are never given anything other than “pray the gay away” to deal with it. Then if the feelings don’t go away, you are not given any out. If the gay doesn’t go away, then you either did not pray hard enough or God doesn’t love you. Now, the people who believe that homosexuality is a choice will say that God never stops loving you, but they act as if being gay must be a sign of some greater moral failing.
So what should I think if I pray for the right woman and none shows up? What should I think when I pray for the “evil thoughts” to be bound and banished by Jesus but they are still there? I think you can see how this could lead a person to atheism, and I have moved in that direction on many occasions.Even without being in an ex-gay program, I can see that I have been wounded by the ex-gay rhetoric. I could probably be considered “collateral damage” to the whole Exodus movement. I so wanted to believe what they were saying because not to believe left me without a God. I wanted to make the feelings go away and was about to physically alter my penis to accomplish this.


Anonymous said...

First of all, Ben, I want to say that I hope your openness will help others. In this series you are really opening yourself to us and sharing experiences that may be common to others. Perhaps they will not feel so alone or unique and may not have to deal as intently with some of the pain as you did.

I do not ever recall seriously desiring to be castrated as a relief from my guilt. My quest for relief took other paths, but I dealt with many of the same guilty feelings and much of the same "God-confusion" as you did. For so many years I wishes that guilt away that others laid on me in the name of God. The problem was not with God. The problem with those who pretended to speak for God. Sadly, that difference is all too often lost in the turmoil.

BentonQuest said...

I would agree about God and those that pretend to speak for God. When you are trying to figure things out, the various voices become garbled.

I do hope someone can see that they are not alone in this and maybe not feel as deeply the pain. I hated my body and then hated myself for hating my body! Oy vey!

paul said...

Hmmmm, this is open. Yep, I considered castration, several times, but not too seriously I think. Really, it was like a flag or threat I waved in front of "God" (or my idea of God) as an indication of how serious my situation was so God would answer. Kind of how many attempt suicide as a plea for help. Most gay guys,however, know it only takes one guy with a penis to have sex, we're versatile after all. And secondly, cutting off part of the body would not change the emotional disposition, which to my way of thinking, is the bigger part of ssa.

Anonymous said...

Hey Ben... there are definitely all sorts of experiences in the way of collateral damage related to ex-gay stuff. Don't know if you've noticed the Beyond Ex-Gay site, which is by and for folks who were some flavor of ex-gay but have moved beyond that to be openly, contentedly gay.

In 2000 I lost my partner to suicide... again no specifically ex-gay experience on his part, but he'd been married and closeted for 22 years, and part of his despair came from ultimatums by pastors to toe the ex-gay line or give up his church musician work.

I'm integrating my own healing, in part, by recognizing just how necessary it is to recognize the prevalence of dealing with grief and loss as part of lgbtiq coming-out, and sometimes lgbtiq life in general.

Take care...