Please Note: This blog post is a teaser for the book, Straight: an ExGay Prodigal Story.
Around the year 2000, I had begun dabbling in gay culture but was not yet ready to make it public.
Both of my aunts are fun in different ways. Aunt Jan, my mom’s sister, is the witty one. She knows the Lord. Standing on His Word, she would later try to reason with me while I was in the pit. ‘We’ll put the hounds of heaven on you!’ she used to say. Through prayer and fasting, believers in my family pleaded with God to do just that. I hated them at the time, but now I know that decision was in everyone’s long-term best interest. Praise the Lord!
Aunt Bobbie, my dad’s sister, is the adventurous one. To this day, she will rise to most any challenge. A few years ago, she went on a motorcycle ride through the Himalayas. Not long afterwards, she rode a motorcycle ride through South America’s wild Patagonia.
“Shoulders down the hill! Turn! Turn!” she coached as she taught me to ski at Holiday Valley. Around 12 years old at the time, I loved it.
Aunt Bob did not have children, and I benefited greatly from that. When I was 21, she flew me “Out West” to ski. On the return flight, I had a layover in Newark. Just outside of NYC, I changed the ticket to stay overnight in the city. My luggage continued on to Pittsburgh.
Living for the experience and looking for trouble, I checked into the dilapidated, legendary Hotel Chelsea. The hotel has hosted many permanent residents over the years, from Madonna to Bob Dylan. Rumored to be haunted, it also has been home to many strange occurrences. For example, punk rocker Sid Vicious allegedly murdered his girlfriend Nancy Spungen there. All of this notoriety drew me to it.
After checking in, I called my roommate Brian and his girlfriend. No one else knew where I was. I called and told my parents I was back in Pittsburgh.
It felt exciting and fun. At Canal Jeans, I picked up a light blue button up shirt for the night. New York was the gold standard. Everyone I knew from the Pittsburgh house music scene wanted to live there. And there I could experiment with gay life… off the record.
I headed to trendy, high-end Soho… as seen in many Hollywood movies… to grab a bite to eat. Playing dumb, I asked locals where to go for “good house music”.
They sent me to a bar with only a few people. A guy hit on me and suggested I go to one of the city’s most well-known gay clubs. It was like being two people in one body. Incredibly curious, I was dying to be in a gay bar. While part of me was afraid, another part of me was trying to justify it, ‘Well, there’s nowhere else to go. May as well…’
Being there was too much for me. Racking up debt, I ordered pricey double mixed drinks. The last foggy memory I have is receiving a shot from the bartender. When he handed it to me, his fingers caressed mine. Fade to black.
In the morning, I was abruptly awakened by pushing and shouting. Opening my eyes, I could see a nurse pushing me around a hospital bed. ‘Stop peeing (the bed)!’ she urged. Oh, boy…
This naive small town boy looking for trouble was shocked to find himself in the crowded emergency room of Manhattan’s bustling Saint Vincent’s Medical Center.
First thing on my mind was, “I need to get out of here… now!” It felt like chaos. I called out for a doctor to no avail. ‘Where am I??! What happened??!’
Eventually a volunteer appeared and calmed me down. She said I reminded her of her own son. Now I believe she was sent of the Lord. My mother later said that during these years, she woke in the middle of many nights with a overwhelming burden to pray.
The woman provided answers to some of my questions – #1. What time is it?
Lacking the funds to re-reschedule my flight, I had several hours to make it.
To my left, an EMT rolled a bed beside mine. ‘You don’t remember me; do you?’ he inquired.
‘We picked you up off the street outside of the gay club. It was pouring down rain. You had vomited all over yourself. Someone thought you were dead and called an ambulance. I knew you weren’t dead because you had your legs crossed. No one who’s dead sits with their legs crossed like that.’
The lady volunteer appealed on my behalf for a moment with the doctor. I explained that I had a flight to catch and needed to get out of there. He insisted that I eat first. They fed me toast, and I signed myself out.
My volunteer friend walked me to check-out. Under a glass divider, the receptionist handed me boot-cut vintage tan corduroys, the vomit-soaked blue shirt, a wife-beater and black platform shoes. I threw away the blue shirt and wore the rest.
If you have not followed a similar path of deception, it probably would seem insane to you that my mind associated these situations with glamour. Satan is the god of this world. I reflected of these experiences in the same way that the world glorifies a drug-induced celebrity death.
Cleaning up at the hotel room, I felt so weak…. but not too weak to muster up the strength to act out. Deep down, I think I was angry with God for not taking away my homosexual attraction, for not answering my childhood pleas. Wallowing in self-pity, I embraced the lie that my family did not love me unconditionally. At the time, I hated them for not approving my sin.
Testing the Lord… Was I willing to die for rebellion?
“Jesus said unto him, ‘It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’” Matthew 4:7
That gay world was so appealing to me. I thought that just maybe… it could lead me to true love. We put action behind what we believe.
Taxi escorted me through the dingily fashionable New York streets to the airport. I reveled in the fact that I had gotten away with it. No one knew except those I had chosen to tell.
Back in Pittsburgh, I shared most of the story (excluding the gay club) with my roommate and his girlfriend. A tear flowed down his girlfriend’s cheek.
“… ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23
Praise the Lord for preserving me to witness.
To find out how these stories end, Click Here to Buy the Book!