The earliest remembrance of being attracted to the same sex was when I was around six or seven years old. There was another boy around my age who lived next door to us. I remember playing with him in the front yard and behind our apartment. At one point, I approached him even at this young age and said to him, “If you let me see yours (private part/genitalia), I’ll let you see mine.” This was just the beginning of a long, confusing struggle with SSA (same sex attraction). Another incident that I recall is when I was in the 4th grade; I had a crush on one particular boy in my class. I can remember on the day we had our annual Christmas party at school, he just all of a sudden started dancing with me. I was so excited that I told my brother and sister that he actually danced with me. Wow! I had no idea what was going on. I was just a young kid.
In the midst of all of this, there was the reality that I did not grow up with my biological father. I was raised by a stepfather who was very distant, critical, lacked affection, and was both mentally and emotionally abusive. I often felt that he did not like me, didn’t understand me, and just simply targeted me for some unknown reason.
The next turning point in my life was between the ages of 15 and 18. I was the “perfect child.” I stayed out of trouble, I did not experiment with sex, drugs, or alcohol, I chose friends who were like-minded and in church, and I witnessed to my classmates. I grew very close to God, and studied the Word of God……but then came my 18th birthday.
In 1985, my senior high school year would prove to be the toughest, both academically and emotionally. Some of the experiences that I had during my senior year would turn my spirituality and ambition completely around. The first semester of twelfth grade, I signed up for several honors classes and A.P. Biology which is a college level Biology class. I excelled exceptionally well in all of my classes.
Upon entering the second semester of my senior year in high school, just one month before my 18th birthday, I was still faithfully attending church and would visit other churches and revivals as well. One particular night, I’d finished all of my homework early, and I asked my mother if it was OK to go to revival services at Pentecostal Temple COGIC here in Memphis. The church was within close vicinity of our house. She said that I could attend, but she also admonished me to be back before 9:00 pm. I went to the service, and it was very uplifting. Services were over about 8:30 pm., and it was beginning to get dark outside. One of the sisters offered to give me a lift home, but since I didn’t live very far from the church, I decided to go ahead and walk home. It was the first week of February, 1985. I had just turned eighteen, and it was very chilly outside. As I crossed Linden Street to get to the other side where Wellington Clinic is located, I began to sing praises to the Lord. I went down one block toward the Foote Homes (a housing project in Memphis). Before I got past the field that separates Southern Funeral Home from Progressive Baptist Church, a guy approached me. I was sort of stunned because he just seemed to appear from out of nowhere. I remember his description very well. He had a toned brown skin color, a nice set of teeth, firm lips, a broad chest, and he wore a blue knit nylon winter cap and scarf. The first words that he spoke to me were in the form of a question. He asked, “Why are you walking home by yourself this time of night, you are too young, fine, and cute to be by yourself?”. I was very nervous, but at the same time very flattered because no one had ever shown me any kind of attention in that way. No one had ever complimented me in such a manner. “What is your name?”, he further asked. In a cracked and unsure voice I said, “Michael”. He then alluringly asked, “Well, Michael, can I walk you home and talk with you for a while?” Flattered by his charm, I said, “Yes”.
As we were walking and talking, I asked his name and he said to me, “My name is Steve”. He continued, “Michael, how old are you?” I said, “Eighteen”. I then asked his age, and he said that he was 26 years old. Being 18 years old, I considered him to be an old man compared to myself. I just gawked and said, “Really, you’re 26 years old!” We talked for a long time, as we walked down the street towards my neighborhood. I’d forgotten that I had a curfew!! We talked about everything including Michael Jackson, whose “Thriller” LP (There were no CDs) was quite popular then.
As we got closer and closer to my house, Steve noticed the porch of an old abandoned house and so he asked if it would be OK to sit down and rest for a while. We sat down on the porch and talked for about another hour. Minutes later, Steve asked me if he could kiss me. He said, “Michael, can I kiss you”? He also said, “I really like you a lot”? I responded in a very unsure and naive manner, “Well, I don’t know. I’ve never done that before, I’ve never kissed anyone before, let alone a guy.” I was a virgin at this time. I wanted to kiss him but I was afraid.
Finally, I gave in to my feelings and said, “Yes”. Steve led me into that old, abandoned house and this is where it began. I experienced my first intimate moment, and it was with another man!! Steve kissed me very passionately and very long. Not understanding anything, I enjoyed it. I’d never experienced anything like it before. After we departed from the abandoned house, I noticed that it was getting late. I knew that my mother was probably wondering where in the world I was because the next morning I had to be in school. I won’t go into further detail, but I will say that I ended up having a relationship with Steve. As a result of the relationship, I went through a huge identity crisis. I was confused because I liked Steve a lot and did not want to leave the relationship, yet I was horrified of displeasing God (I was raised up and grew up in the church). I didn’t know what to do. I went to see psychiatrists, but they only told me that there was nothing wrong with me. The more they told me this, the more I became depressed. This identity crisis caused me to become suicidal, outcast, my college grades suffered, I couldn’t keep a job, I was becoming promiscuous, and I dropped out of college.
The next year, 1986, I found out that I was HIV positive. This is 1986. I was nineteen years old. Back then, there was no treatment for HIV, and people eventually died within three years. Oh, but thank God for his mercy and grace that has kept me for 27 years. I have never had an opportunistic infection or AIDS. You could only imagine how an experience like this could affect the livelihood of any young man like me. Throughout my twenties and thirties, I was saved, but I was confused and depressed about my sexuality most of these years. I was a brother who was in the church, but the stronghold of homosexuality was tormenting me. I needed DELIVERANCE!!!
Three years ago, I developed a relationship with a man, and we actually lived together, but throughout the relationship, there was a strong conviction that something just wasn’t right. Last year, I felt strongly in my spirit to start an internet search on the subject of deliverance from homosexuality. Several hits came up, but one in particular caught my attention. I was drawn to a testimony by a man named DL Foster from “Witness for the World” ministries. I clicked the link and listened to the testimonies of DL Foster and other brothers and sisters on the website. I was amazed at how God worked in the lives of DL and the others and I said to myself, “If God can do this for them, and then maybe he can do the same for me”. There was also a link to contact DL Foster by e-mail. I placed a message and my phone number in the box and within a couple of days Pastor Foster called me and immediately the counseling/healing began. The first six months of the deliverance process was extremely difficult because while I was going through the process of deliverance, I also had to deal with trials, tribulations, emotional soul ties, decisions, etc. Although this was hard, I thank God for the brothers and sisters on the ON whose prayers and advice got me through a lot of tough situations.
When I surrendered my life completely to the Lord Jesus Christ and cried out to Him for deliverance, He in turn, heard my cry and led me through a process of purging, renewal, and cleansing. During this time, I developed a very intimate relationship with Him, like the one I had as a fifteen year old but more intense. I also began to read and apply the Word of God to every situation I was faced with. I had to learn that only Jesus Christ could deliver me from the bondage I was in; only He could initiate the healing that I so desperately needed. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t thank Him for His magnificent healing power and for His mercy and grace upon my life. Today, I live for God. I live to please Him. Today, I have a hope instilled within me by the Holy Spirit, and now I can truly say that whatever God has for me, it is definitely for me.