I am married and experience same sex attraction (SSA). Yes, my wife knows about my attractions. No, I don’t have a secret boyfriend behind my wife’s back. And yes, it’s a heterosexual marriage. While marriage isn’t the cure or redemption to SSA, I could only give of myself entirely in marriage after a long process of redemption, conversion and surrendering my areas of woundedness and darkness to God. Post-wedding bells, the attraction to other men continue to lurk and to haunt, and threaten to distort my marriage. So, the daily turning-towards-Jesus continues as I learn to be the man God had created me to be and to stand up for my wife, whom God has blessed me with.
To witness my bride walking down the aisle, with our family and friends cheering us on… this was nothing short of a miracle! Just 5 years before my wedding, I was hungry for sexual intimacy with other men and hating God (and myself) for having such desires. At that time, God seemed so cruel – condemning me to a lifetime of loneliness with no one to love me for who I am. I had no one to talk to, my desperation swelled as more friends started getting attached and married. I started envisioning a life as a lone ranger (or the ever available godfather). There were times when I wanted to throw myself off the roof and choose to end my life.
The turning point? My college chaplain introduced me to the Theology of the Body (a series of Wednesday audiences from St John Paul the Great). Through a prayerful reflection of TOB, I learnt that the devil does not have his own clay and seeks to distort all that is good, true and beautiful. So, rather than repressing this lust I experienced for other men (which almost invariably bounces back violently), it became a question of unwinding the distortions in my sexuality and my desire for intimacy. I had longed for communion and validation, and had sought these through desiring physicality with gorgeous men.
My journey of unwinding these distortions was one of seeking God to heal my poor self-esteem, forgiving those who could not love me the way I needed to be loved and building up my masculinity through the lens of Christ (and not the world’s).
Self-esteem and masculinity
I realised a similarity between all the men who attracted me. In part, my preferences were ‘educated’ by the pornography that I had watched. More significantly, all of them possessed a certain physical or character trait that I wanted or perceived to be lacking in myself. A good body, charismatic charm, soft blond hair, blue eyes, chiseled abs, etc.
Knowing this, I became aware of my crippling sense of inadequacy and how my erotic attractions were driven by comparison and male jealousy. I had also benchmarked my own masculinity with the men portrayed in movies and magazines. Ultimately, it was the Truth that set me free. The truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139), that I am not an accident and I am God’s masterpiece. To belittle myself would be to belittle my creator who has made me. Recognising the truth of my belovedness in God’s eyes, I eventually modelled my masculinity after Jesus.
While my parents did everything within their knowledge to provide for my needs, I grew up in an environment where my parents were fighting regularly and where affection was seldom shown. I was fearful of marriage, thinking that it would only lead to heartache and bitter quarrelling. I could never connect with my father – it always felt like he loved my other siblings better, or that I couldn’t be the man he wants me to be. I couldn’t learn what masculinity means from my dad, and naturally couldn’t turn to him in the midst of my SSA struggles. This time round, it was forgiveness that set me free.
To recognise that my parents are not perfect and loved me the way they knew how, and to intercede for them and their marriage. I was set free from the lies I had believed about marriage and gradually healed from my emotional wounds and painful memories.
Today, the married me continues to struggle with my broken self-esteem and to live in the truth of my identity and sexuality. To accept the lie of following my sexual impulses and entertain my attraction for other men would mean stomping on my wedding vows to my wife. Yet there are days where I am battered by work and I find my eyes lingering on that dude with the smart navy suit. Sometimes, my mind wonders and wanders into what lies under the suit. Regardless of how far I fall into the rabbit hole, or whether I act upon these temptations, my safeguard is to always be completely vulnerable with my wife and come clean with my distortions each time they come up. While it is tempting to seem strong and not confess my sexual weaknesses, both my marriage and I have benefited from mustering the courage to do otherwise.
Indeed God’s glory is made manifest in my weaknesses. One of the greatest driving force in my marriage is our couple mission to reveal the Trinitarian love and to inspire authentic relationships and families. Together, we tell the stories of how the Divine Physician has healed us from our shame and our wounds. Through our marriage, we welcome couples into our lives and home and share with them our journey, joys and struggles of living a Catholic family. We desire that all of God’s children will be set free from the lies and distortions about their sexuality and bodies and that families would live out the love of the Trinity. Join us in praying for and working towards a world where all recognise the beauty of authentic love!
*Zach is a pseudonym