From Boy to Boyd

by Boyd, 27

I’m going start today where I’m going to finish and that’s with a few quotes. These quotes are not my own and, in fact, anything you read from me today that sounds cool and catchy came from somewhere else. Probably Sy Rogers… or Ricky… or Julie…

This first one comes from Sheila Walsh and it’s where I want to begin and I really want you to hear me: “YOU HAVE NEVER LIVED AN UNLOVED MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE.”

  • “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” That’s God … that’s not Sheila Walsh.
  • “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
  • “Be still and know that I am God”

That last one I used to think was a nice spiritual idea of quietness and a balance of Christian zen yoga. Until I realized it was given when the Israelites were facing their biggest challenges; things that they literally couldn’t see ever working out in their favour. God was effectively saying, “I started this… I will finish this.” I know that many of us are in that place – staring at the mountain with its peaks, razor sharp rocks and snow, after we’ve just trudged through the desert.  Some of us have been there for years, and God is saying, “let’s go!” But all you can think is, “I want to go back to Egypt.” I get it, I really do

In my home country of Australia, just like in the USA; we have a deeply broken idea of what it means to be a true male. Little boys wear blue, play with trucks, like rough sports and of course, boys don’t cry. I was artistic, quiet, sensitive, homey, I loved cooking, making things and singing and dancing all day. I was presented with the choice: either put on a tough mask and join the boys or rebel against that image and become an outsider.

My father became a minister early in my childhood and my parents did the best they could to provide a stable Christian home, so I knew God personally from an early age and loved him. However my father was exceedingly and overly physical with discipline, which filled me with terror and anxiety. So I spent most of my childhood close to the girls around me who felt completely safe. When my father saw me doing things that ‘only girls do’, with the sincerest of intentions, he would try to encourage me to ‘be more like a man.’ But this felt like a dagger through the centre of my identity.

I remember Sy Rogers saying once, the biggest lie ever sold to the human race is, “sticks and stone may break my bones but names will never hurt me.” So true. Because the names don’t just hurt, they actually kill. In early school all of the labels were handed to me. Girl, fag, gay, queer, sissy, effeminate, mummas boy – the list goes on. As my anxious little heart was just forming and getting ready to head into the teenage years, like a heavy boot in wet cement my fate was sealed. WHAM, “you’re just a girl,” WHAM, “you haven’t got what it takes,” WHAM, “you will never be worthy as a man.”

So to cope I came up with a simple plan – I didn’t need anyone! I vowed to myself I would go it alone and not allow anyone to get inside to hurt me. I pushed my dad and men away and made my heart an empty shell, devoid of feelings that could be hurt; isolating myself. The broken cultural male image had worked its poison again.

However, the trouble with emotions is you don’t bury them dead you bury them alive. And they will eventually claw their way to the surface to come back and deal with you.

As I entered high school the teasing thankfully subsided and I felt quite accepted by my male classmates who I happily count as great friends today. However, in my mind I still never quite measured up. All my sporty male friends became superhuman in my eyes as the unattainable embodiment of what it meant to be a man; and I despaired as I realised, “I like guys… not girls.”

At the same time, entering high school, my relationship with God also began to radically change as my fear of men transferred across to a dread fear of God. As soon as I realised my desires were growing in the wrong direction, I began frantically begging God to change me. As the years passed and the feelings only intensified, the horror of what God must think of me began to feel like a heavy weight.

I think it’s a travesty that the first time I heard a message saying there is hope for the gay person and the gay community was when I was 16; and it wasn’t until I was in university that a ministry specifically dedicated to this area began in my city. Without the support of this ministry, some dear close friends and Living Hope Youth, which I’d then found online, (trawling for porn) I’m not sure I’d be here today. All I needed was for someone to be ‘Jesus with skin on’ to tell me I was okay and there was hope. It would have made a world of difference.

I don’t remember ever being sexually abused, my abuse was more emotional, but I do remember being drawn into lots of games of sexual curiosity with boy around 3rd/4th grade.  As I entered high school and puberty and as my connection to God began to slowly die I discovered my sexual side and then the wheels really fell off. By 12/13 I was actively propositioning guys on phone chat lines for sex and by 15 I was regularly seeking anonymous sex. Little did I know I was well on my way to profound sexual addiction; by mid university many years later, and a few std’s later, I had easily lost count of the number of guys I’d been with.

Proverbs 27:7 is often quoted because it sums everything up perfectly, “He that is full loathes honey but to he that is starving, even what is bitter tastes sweet.”

And it was sweet. I utterly despised myself for doing it but I had so completely shut myself off and been starved of emotional connection that these experiences were like breathing for the first time or like tantalising water to a lost desert wanderer.

I felt I was trapped in a Jekyll and Hyde double life. To cope I relentlessly threw myself into study, and as singing is my profession, into performing work … and ministry; because sometimes ministry can be a great place to hide from God. I still loved God and wanted to serve him; and I thought that if I could control every aspect of these areas then maybe my same-sex desires would begin to control themselves or I could at least compensate for them in some way.

I wrote in my journal at the time

1:53 am   “… I feel like i am facing Mt. Everest and must climb it. I feel so tired already – I just want to give up! Take me now Jesus and get it over with. How can I lead others when I can’t even lead myself? …where are you Lord? How do I find you? Why are you silent, or am I just covering my ears and screaming so I cannot hear… I want you Lord. I want you more than air, more than food… more than sex, more than all the kingdoms of the world…

2:45 am  … I feel you like an incredible weight on my shoulders that I cannot escape! Like and unquenchable fire that will never be satisfied, an unreachable hunger… I feel like I could work forever but never be rid of the weight. Never have – peace. I have no peace Lord!”

It became increasingly more difficult to keep apart the two worlds I lived in. Then amongst the addiction and after a few brief relationships, I entered a very significant relationship with a guy who I grew to care for and love very deeply.

Spiritually I reached the end of myself. In fact, despite my relentless years of fighting this battle, my strivings and endeavours for holiness with endless moments on my knees in genuine repentance, attending support groups, or pouring over scriptures and testimonies of healing, I realised I felt further away from God than when I started. In effect, it seemed to have all been for nothing – a devastating, devastating realisation.

So I sent a simple prayer up to God letting him know I clearly did not seem to get what it meant to be a Christian, like I believed the rest of the church did; and I was not going to keep trying – it was too hard. I had a relationship that made me feel complete, happier and safer than I had in years; and gave me a reason to keep living.

A diary entry from the time ends with a simple phrase in capital letters, “GOD I’M DONE.” I stopped going to church and support group; and I contacted some close friends and ministry colleagues, who I had opened up to about my struggles, to let them know that I was giving up.

But God, in his loving grace, (although I can distinctly tell you it felt like everything but loving grace at the time) decided this was the moment to step back into my life.

Through miraculous circumstances I found myself about to make my international singing debut. But to my dismay, it was to a Christian performing arts festival that I had wanted to go to for years. To add to this I had also wanted to attend an Exodus International conference. And what should happen, but Exodus and the festival were one hour’s drive from each other Indiana USA.

I knew God was involved so I decided I would use money as the excuse to stay. I don’t have the time to tell you the full story, ask me sometime if you would like to know. But without a cent in the bank 3 days before payment deadline, the entire amount, which would look very healthy on a years’ salary, was leant to me. I was also told the two conferences would cover all my expenses there, and someone available to drive me between the two events.

So I kissed my boyfriend goodbye and to my surprise I was soon on a flight to the US, then sitting at Exodus youth in the middle of a crowd of Christians whose stories were all the same as mine. But I was angry – I knew why God had brought me here and in the middle of a worship session as the crowd sang, “Who do you say that I am?” I sat cold and numb; and I let God have it –

“I’ll tell you who I think you are God! I think you are a LIAR and a CHEAT. I think you are a false god who goes back on his promises. I thought you were supposed to be the God of the broken hearted, that if I cried out you would come and heal me. I thought you were the father to the fatherless, my shield and defender, the prince of peace, my comforter. But you’re not! I do not trust you! You desert your children when they need you most. When I have most needed you, you have been most silent and now that I am happy, you bring me all the way around the world to leave me in shame and despair!”

Then I ducked because I thought the roof might collapse on me or lightning strike me. But to my surprise God spoke to my heart very gently and very precisely. And said-

(Journal entry)

“It’s time to leave Egypt…

You think I didn’t see that coming? You think I didn’t know where your heart was at? I know you’re sacred and I know you’re hurting and I know you don’t trust me, some of that is due to your own rebellion and some is due to positions you’ve been put into by others – however, you’ve never allowed me to prove myself.

I asked you time and time again to leave Egypt and, although you tried, as you continued to disobey my call, you ceased to know who I was and became one of them. You could not hear me or see me even though I was right there. You soon thought I had abandoned you – that I was distant and silent.

I will certainly never leave or forsake you, but if you don’t start obeying, I will start giving you what you are asking me for and I will start taking my hand of protection away from you. The promises I have for your future will be compromised; and those who can only hear about me through you – won’t.

At the end of yourself, I have brought you overseas to surround you with myself so I can soften your heart to hear me again…  Boyd it’s time to leave Egypt.”

So with a dear friend, Julie, who was in a very similar place at the time, I sat and prayed for a very long time. It was a prayer of repentance and at the end of the time of praying I had such a clear image form in my mind.

~~~I saw myself at the gates of Egypt dressed in Hebrew travelling clothes. It is first light and the dawn is crisp and clear. I am staring at the open desert and I have food for a day and water for a day, no company and no map and God is telling me, “Go.”~~~

And so I did, I can honestly say I left Egypt that day. And for the first time in my life I had no idea what was coming next – I was not in control.

Now, although I can draw a direct line from that point to this point, it has been very rocky. It’s been tough. I was in deep sexual addiction, which takes a lot to get out of, and I ended up having a very short but significant final relationship with another guy. It’s coming up to two years since that relationship ended and pretty soon it will be one year sexually sober – which is big for me.

And I guess that’s part of the question “where are you now?” which is fair enough. But I’m not actually going to completely answer that. Because for many, what they’re actually asking is, “so… are you done?” Well, you can answer that – are you done? How’s your mess going? Where are you at in your journey? Of course I’m not finished.

Stop making your goal the absence of the struggle. Thank God Paul never named his ‘thorn in the flesh’ so we can all just jump right in there with ours and realise that Christ’s power is perfect in our weakness. Not the absence of the struggle but Christ in the centre of your struggle. My true Christian life exists ‘In Christ.’ To even glimpse what it means to truly understand the fullness of being ‘In Christ’ has been the most freeing experience of my entire life, even in the midst of weakness, compromise and sin. Christ has accomplished this holiness – a past achieved, present reality.

So where am I now? Well I can tell you this; I do not recognise the person in my journal pages.

Like a child just beginning to walk or being potty trained, I am secure in Christ when the ‘woopsy’ moments, the relapses and bumps in the road occur, I know that my dad in heaven is not about to smite me with lightning. Sure, the journey is still painful, but like the moment you uncover a deep graze and feel the sting of water and oxygen as it is cleaned, so too do I see God gently helping me unpack the past and deal with it appropriately.  And God is also gently rewetting the cement that was set so long ago. The gaping holes that told me, “you will never have what it takes,” are steadily being fill in with great, healthy male relationships and I do not feel condemned for not fitting the broken cultural mould. I’ve found a church where folks know my story, (because god asked me to tell them all in the main service, and folks that took some guts.) And I’ve got a healthy set of guy friends who love me to bits – it has truly changed me. I have found that obedience is the key to speedy change.

I know that deep down a huge part of me that is scared I may never get laid ever again, a part that still feels that I would be happier with a guy, That Ricky Martin and I would make a great couple at the Latin Grammy’s. Seriously. I know that is still there.

But I am choosing to live by the deeper, deeper part of me that at the moment exists in obedience. And as I have obeyed, I’ve found great transcendent peace in my soul, and my creativity and freedom in my work have increased dramatically.

In fact I love the artistic side of my nature; the sensitive guy that loves Jane Austin, Disney and cries watching Oprah. I can walk into a gym and feel like I have just as much right to get changed in the male change rooms. I can hold a baby and enjoy the new life and potential it has without fear that I might break it or scar it for life. Heck I’ve even watched a whole football game. And also after thinking for years that I was practically one of the females around me, I have come to realise that you ladies really are from a completely different planet. What on earth is going on inside those heads of yours?!

Now of course this is not the measure of ‘hetero’ “and now I’m completely healed and married, praise Jesus.” But I sure count it progress!

Over all, I have peace and know that God loves me. And you know what, I like me.

Which brings me back to where I started, and what I pray the Holy Spirit takes directly to your very core: YOU HAVE NEVER LIVED AN UNLOVED MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE.

  • “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
  •  “The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
  • “Be still and know that I am God”