As my childhood entered a big transition phase, I started dealing with it through unhealthy self-reliance. This created a sort of double life as I encountered more difficult situations.

Peers started associating me with the gay community. One time in the locker room, a guy caught my wandering eyes and accused me of looking at him, asking if I was gay.

During my lunch period there was a group of guys who often mimicked the way I spoke. It’s partly why I don’t like my voice to this day.

And, since I had recently moved, I didn’t have close friends yet. You know, the ones who would stand up for me. Or at least divert my attention after the fact. I felt like I needed (had?) to deal with this alone.

Back then, I walked to school — not “cool” for any middle school student. A few times, someone in a car or truck passed me on my walk home and randomly yelled things at me. It was on these walks that I got introduced to the term, “fag.”

Eventually, I found pornography. Honestly, I don’t remember what I typed or why I typed it. But I do remember finding pictures of naked people.

My heart raced. Why was I more interested in the guys?

I started looking for pictures of just guys. Excitement and fear spun within me.

Maybe it was a phase — because I couldn’t be Christian and gay, right?

All I really knew was that I was curious. The naked male body drew me in. And when the excitement wore off, I was left with guilt. And more confusion about what I was doing and why.

Church taught me that looking at females this way was wrong. School told me my hormones were raging.

Why did I have such a strong physical and emotional reaction to these photos of men? Why did I feel the need to hide?

I don’t know why, but I hid. Hid what I was looking at. Hid how I was feeling. Hid the words that were said to me.

I hid it all.

I didn’t know how to talk about it. Didn’t know with whom to talk.

Would there be judgement from church? What would my newly acquired friends think? Self-reliance and emotional baggage to carry became a steady way of life.

I still didn’t want people to know my secrets, so I did the logical thing: I put on the smiley mask around friends, family, and youth group.

Loneliness couldn’t bother me if I kept up my life on the outside.

If I didn’t say I was gay and my life didn’t appear that way, maybe I would stop feeling alone. Maybe the attractions and the awkwardness would vanish, too.

However, this was just the beginning of my double life.

Have you lived a double life with your faith and sexuality? Have you ever merged your double life, or do you feel the need to separate different parts of you? What childhood wounds still carry into today?

About the Author

  • Even though I had my first crush on a girl at 10 I didn’t even recognize all that was going on with me on a level of acknowledgement until I was in my early 20s so middle school and high school (on top of being home-schooled) weren’t that type of experience. I always wonder what it would have been like to have had my experience of figuring things out in earlier years, but I’m also glad I didn’t at the same time. I had to much family and personal drama to begin with and adding that on top of it would not have gone well for me.
    That being said, once I did begin to figure all this out I quickly realized that even just knowing that I was thinking about and processing this type of information made people uncomfortable. I had been in a position to be open and honest about absolutely everything including my struggles with purity and all that that may entail, so I began to be honest that that included women and that was when things began to get awkward. And I’m not saying I was telling just anybody, I mean my spiritual leaders who were over me at the time. The subject began to be strictly avoided and if it was necessary to avoid me to avoid it coming up that’s what happened. So it wasnt exactly a double life, but something I definitely kept (and still mostly keep) to myself. I had to figure things out on my own about my sexuality and what that meant for me and my faith. I was left to find community on my own, and I did, I just wish I didn’t have to find a separate one. They may have thought that if they avoided talking to me about it then maybe I’d just forget about it – who knows. Left to my own devices, in a sense, I had to come to my own conclusions, and I do not look forward to the day if I am ever put in the position to explain that. I am a very private person, always have been, so it worked well for me to figure things out on my own and isolation to an extent, but not even really having the option to share with someone willing to actually listen did hurt.
    So I guess my double life is that I live and work amongst people with certain ideals, while without realizing it mine have shifted but I keep quiet about it

    • I’m sorry that church failed you so badly. I’ve had a similar experience with no one wanting to talk about it. It’s been so worth it to keep searching for real friends in God’s family who really want to dive deeply into each other, who really care about me, sexuality and all.

    • Oof, yeah. I’ll get more into the how and why and who I shared my struggles with in later posts. But it’s not easy to navigate those relationships and conversations.
      Sorry that your people weren’t great at being community for you. I continue to realize that the deep knowledge that people need community is one of the “blessings” of my ssa. People knowing my story and being willing to continue to walk through life has been and continue to be essential. And so is being able to do life with people who differ greatly from us. Hope that you continue find ways, places and relationships where you can be authentic!

  • WOW! You described my teenage years almost to a tee. My one difference was that I discovered my homosexual desires because of the death of my best friend. Before I had made innocent sexual overtures towards him, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. When he died, I realized those overtures were sexual in nature (mostly wanting to see him naked). We NEVER had sex, but it didn’t stop my feelings for him. This explained all the taunts of ‘faggot’ I had heard since I was eleven. My friend was the only one who never called me this, and now he was gone (suicide). I lived in denial of my feelings for a long time, but secretly sought out hard core pornography, that had a male; this way I would have plausible deniability if I was caught. I wasn’t.
    I eventually entered the gay lifestyle in anger and rebellion after the church I was attending declared that all gays go to hell. The gay lifestyle was a hell in itself. I never had confronted my true feelings, that I was actually in mourning. I was having sex with men, because I was missing my friendship with my friend, looking for that which was lost.

  • You have just described my life to a “T” man! I looked to see if my name was on the author’s list. My years were awful, from guys swagging in the locker room, approaching me with suggestive actions to perform, to guys walking by saying, ‘fag,’ to flashing me asking if I wanted it, to mimicking my voice, to everything. It didn’t help that I sucked at ball sports, only had a mom, and on and on. I walked by a store once with a naked guy on a glass, and I was FASCINATED by it. This led to gay porn which led to gay relationships. I used to pray for a “straight pill!” Nevertheless, I still struggle with homosexuality, but being able to talk has helped. Thanks for posting this.

    • Yes…. the teen years were definitely not easy. Culture teaches that anything outside the norm can be ridiculed, and teens trying to understand themselves and the world are quick to find their group and who the outsiders are.
      The straight pill….. I think many of us have prayed for that. But I may actually be able to say I’m okay with this struggle and the story it has been and continues to be.
      Glad that you are here to navigate with brothers (and sisters)!

  • Yikes…this describes me so much. I was a master of living a double life until 3.5 years ago. This resonated a lot with me…thanks for sharing!

    • Yeah, the double life doesn’t go away easily. I’m sure I’ll be mentioning it a few more times in posts to come. And even now there are times where I still have to check myself and the way I’m portraying versus being authentic…… time and place.

  • I lived a dual life in my teens too, but uch different from you. My “outside” persona was a tough long hair drug user (and I played the drug part well), internally I suffered from self hatred, social anxiety and very strong SSA.
    Today my outside persona is that of a confident Christian provider (husband, father, employee) which I play well. Inwardly I have much of the same emotional issues as when I was young and cyber sex addiction has replaced the drugs.
    I admire those of you that have ended the “dual life”, I gave up believing its possible for me without the ruination of my family and relationships. I’m not willing to pay that price.

    • I have by no means ended my dual life fully. Still working on that. And I think there are moments when the dual life does make some sense…

  • For most of my life I had the attraction to other men, but since I had decided not to act out on my same-sex attraction (after I had done so with one man in university) I basically didn’t feel a lot of conflict with my faith and my attractions. I more or less tried to ignore my attraction and thought I was ok because I wasn’t acting out. But in truth the shame was there and Satan never let me forget it. When I was under stress from moving and starting a new job in 2012, I was drawn into gay porn.
    This began the huge conflict between my faith and my SSA. I was miserable with my “secret life”. I earnestly sought God and he answered me. He showed me that porn was only the symptom of the deeper problems I had ignored and was trying to hide from others. He told me to work on the SSA, and when I made peace with my past, I would no longer need porn to medicate my bad feelings.
    Thus my journey began. Today I am sober from pornography and masturbation. And I honestly cannot remember the last time in 2017 that I felt any sexual attraction to another man. I am highly attracted sexually to my wife. My “secret life” is over and I thank God for His grace to work through the past wounds and pain to come to the place where I can walk in dependence on Him every day for all I need to be a man in a men’s world.

    • Dude, way to go on your sobriety Alan!! That is definitely a goal I am still working towards.
      And I can relate with trying to ignore the attractions. If I am involved at church and go to the school dances with a friend who is a girl and do my chores at home and stay up with school work….. then maybe there isn’t really anything wrong! But eventually it comes out and has to be navigated more authentically.

      • My relationship with my wife (married 38 years) started as a deep friendship. I wouldn’t change that: emotional connection to someone is the best foundation for marriage. What I would have changed is that I wish I had worked on my SSA to find peace with my “history” when I was your age. There are lots of things, but here are the big ones: I needed to accept myself as fully male and fully masculine in a men’s world. I felt inferior and inadequate. I needed to make healthy connections to other healthy heterosexual men in order to receive attention, affection and affirmation. I needed to become open and vulnerable with God and other men, not hiding my weaknesses, but accepting both my strengths and weaknesses. I needed to deal with shame.

  • Maybe growing up in a modern society has shielded me from this kind of bullying (nowadays, I’ve actually probably been shamed more for some of the more homophobic things I’ve said. A close friend of mine got offended when I told her I WASN’T gay, and another male friend told me it was stupid to deny it). This doesn’t mean I haven’t heard the term “fag” enough times to feel the shame, but it’s so interesting to me how things are flipping the other way. And the potential is just as dangerous, considering saying anything bad about homosexuality can lead you to being shunned, and when you already struggle with your identity this is highly damaging. Maybe it’s something I have to deal with that many others don’t. But I’ll also never have to deal with being naked in a guys locker room so…fair trade off? Lol.
    Oh and spot on in the whole “double life” thing. What’s exactly what it feels like, and it sucks really bad. Thanks for sharing again!

    • Fred – I was talking to some of my friends about the generational differences – how in previous generations one almost HAD to hide the struggle with SSA, and now, like you said, it’s almost the opposite – where one is encouraged to embrace it. And I find that I – and some of the others around my age – straddle that line. I grew up knowing that “being gay was a sin” even it was never said so directly, but in high school and college felt the shift toward people/culture/some churches saying not to deny anything. It’s interesting to see how the culture impacts our stories as we navigate….
      And man, this double life thing. I haven’t planned out the next chapters of my story, but I’ll likely touch on this again.

  • All my life. Never felt I belonged with the family I was burned into. Always noticed that I was different from others growing up in school and I think maybe I am an undiscovered highly intelligent person. I came to that revelation during my junior year of high school. My freshmen year of college (3 years since I dropped out) I came to the revelation that I am gay. I know I am. I know I always have been just never understood or realised it? Maybe denied it?
    Started out by getting on these Bear dating websites and social media for Bears. I identify myself within the Bear community (as a cub because i’m So young and still growing body hair) because they are full of great men of all shapes and sizes and make me feel like I belong.
    I been to Pride Day in STL and was invited to walk with the Show Me Bears organisation. I was honoured to be with them. I wore a shirt and they had me carry a Bear pride flag to wave too.
    Told my father who is a Church of God minister and the head pastor of our church, that I was going to a baseball game with a friend that day. I felt bad for lying but I felt no shame for living out a moment in my life to express who I am.
    Childhood wounds I still carry was being called gay, a fag/faggot, gayboy by my own family and peers in elementary school and middle school in a hateful manner. Just last night a friend said something hurtful to me without the intentions I’m sure.
    People are quick to forget who they are and what skeletons they have in their closests. Jesus Christ himself said that he who is without sin let him cast the first stone, after he wrote something in the sand in front of them. They all walked away with their tails tucked between their legs.

      • I was very suicidal. 5th grade was when my mom told me I ha to be a big boy for her and figure some things out for myself. I wasn’t babied, wasn’t allowed to have help it seemed. I was the to be the Prodigal son. I didn’t ask to be the oldest son she had. I am not angry at her anymore! I hated my mother. She always knew I would be alright. She gave her baby to The Lord. And He’s not finished with me.
        He’s brought me to a man that I know to be my father and is a Church of God minister.
        I hate hearing the f word, the words fag, faggot, and retard and retarded the most out of any other words. They are never said in a manner that isn’t good…
        That link you shared just reminded me how hard it was being called something you didn’t understand. Your own step father, half siblings, kids at school, camp, wen church…grown ups too! 11/12 year old kid…tried killing himself multiple times and no one ever knew it.

        • It was a hard life I lead. I am still struggling to reconcile my faith and being gay, also dealing with the FACT that I loved my best friend. I refused to acknowledge this fact when he died for fear of the ‘F’ word, and not doing so really messed me up bad. God is still God though; and he revealed these things to me as part of my memory recovery (I had a massive stroke). It was the stroke that brought me back to God after twenty years. It has been hard dealing with these things (imagine finding out you’re gay TWICE in your life) and dealing with his death. One could go mad I suppose, but it is all a part of God’s plan, and I am forever grateful He came for me.

          • Guess I lost two friends I made this year…told one I was gay and he told another friend and they’re just being ignorant about it all and trying to prove their masculinity to me. Oh well…least I know I am better than that and just walked away from their arrogance.

  • I did have a double life. Pretending to like girls and pretending to not like it when boys would say nice things to me or joke with me by asking me to dance. Merge my double life- I assume you mean come out? My parents actually found out that I was watching gay porn and my younger brother told our pastor. I couldn’t have asked for them to handle it any better than they did though, so I was so very blessed to not have gone through what I see others have.

    • Gavin – Trying not to notice or be obvious when a guy says nice things/wants to spend time with me is STILL sometimes an issue. But at least I understand it better and know where to place it.
      And I think merge could mean many different things – coming out, finding some balance between the “lives” that had been separate before. Glad things sound to have gone well for you! I would have been UNhappy if somebody had told my story without permission.

      • Haha right, Kevin. Fairly recently, a guy who I found attractive in my class was approaching the door to the class we were taking together. I was coming from the opposite direction, so we were facing each other. He saw that I had gotten a haircut. He said, “Ah, you got a haircut!” and I said, “Yea :)” and then he said in the most nicest way, “You look good.”. This made me freak out inside because it was during a time I was struggling greatly with habitual hormones and basically a desire for a boyfriend. I said, “Shut up!” a bit too loud as we were walking into the class room in front of everyone. The second I said that, I knew I had messed up again and hurt his feelings. I tried to save myself and look back at him with a smile to try and show him that I really didn’t mean what I said and I meant it in a joking way, but it didn’t work. He really meant what he said and I basically, in a figure of speech, slapped the flowers out of his hand as he was giving them to me. I have reason to believe that he liked me at least a little.
        And yes if he told others without my permission then I would have been upset, but my younger brother, I’m sure, was just a bit unsure of what to do. During that time I was very depressed and would seclude myself from him and the rest of my family and made it hard for them to talk to me. My younger brother went to a very kind pastor who I would have chosen to speak to myself if anyone. It was done out of love for me. I can’t be so upset with him for that.
        And I think you’re right about merging the two different lives.

  • I do have hurts from childhood. My parents allowed porn into our house for my dad and I found it at 9 years of age. My innocence stolen, I feasted on all those pictures several times. My problem? Even at nine I realized I was more interested in the men bodies vs the women. I thought it was because I wanted so much to be a man. But, when I became 12 I discovered masturbation and I didn’t masturbate to women, but to my friends at school. I knew I had a problem, but I thought it was just normal teen guy stuff. Later I realized it was a huge problem and caused me to lead a double life as a Christian teen and man. But now at 62 and with 38 years of amazing sex with my wife, the hurts are diminished—my wife knows my issue, she still loves me, understands how I got there, and is hugely supportive!

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