Below is one story - David, from Israel - featured in People Can Change's book, Then and Now: How My Sexual Attractions Have Changed.
I grew up in the New York metro area, and started going to gay movie houses and other “cruising”venues during high school. I was very sexually active, and enjoyed the attention that the gay world lavishes on young men. However, my
emotional life was a series of “crushes” in which I was obsessed with and dependent on father or “bad boy” figures, and then felt devastated when they betrayed me. Being in the gay life in Manhattan generated a rush of excitement that I initially mistook for self-fulfillment. But the lifestyle and my behavior were still driven by my deep insecurity and emotional neediness. I was easily manipulated, and when the rush of an “encounter”wore off, I felt lonely and bad about myself.
I made several attempts during high school and college to find a therapist who could help me, but there were no organizations to help people like me. I stumbled into marriage without significant insight into my SSA, and only later made contact with organizations like JONAH and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) that gave me honest information and hope, and pointed me toward therapists and support groups that helped me identify and heal the underlying wounds in my masculine identity. My life has improved greatly as a result!
Deep dissatisfaction with the gay lifestyle, and a desire to live a physically and emotionally healthier life. Deep conflict between the homosexual agenda—and how the homosexual lifestyle actually plays out—and my personal values and religious
beliefs. Desire for a healthy family lifebased on trust, love, and commitment—which despite media imagery I did not see in the gay community.
I am now happily married with children. I have not had any physical (sexual) contact with another man forover 10 years. My lived sexuality is overwhelmingly heterosexual. When I am depressed, or feelinge motional distress, gay imagery or
feelings of inferiority and neediness towards other men appear. But I know this is just the old “non-solution” presenting itself.
Persevered with therapy for several years, to uncover and finally heal childhood family patterns and traumatic experiences that contributed to my SSA.
Reached out to my local clergy and community about my depression and isolation.
Attended men’s growth weekends—both for general and SSA populations—recommended by JONAH. The most powerful of these was Journey Into Manhood sponsored by the People Can Change organization. These weekends introduced me to “guts work”—physical work to release and express emotional wounds—and to practical reality-check and problem-solving skills. They also gave me a support group of fellow men.
Joined a 12-step group for online porn addicts, while continuing with the support groups of JONAH and the men’s weekends.
Reached out to the JONAH organization, joined their support group, and started reading background materials on their website.
Reached out to NARTH and other sources of information.
What brought about change?
Long-term dialogue in JONAH support groups. Weekends and support groups of People Can Change and support groups of Call of the Shofar.
Lots of misinformation about how normal and healthy homosexuality was—which was directly contradictory to my personal observation and experience! People implying I was a failure for not making the gay life work—or somehow a “traitor to the cause” for not accepting the unsatisfactory gay lifestyle.
NOTHING I experienced in my healing process approaches the dysfunctional, manipulative, and exploitative behaviors that I encountered in gay Manhattan.
The work can be difficult. It can involve probing the most painful parts of one’s personal history, and confronting one’s deepest fears. This can make this therapy especially difficult for those with very brittle self-worth. The work often involves exposing yourself to groups of men—and this can be very challenging to men who feel deeply inferior, or who feel they have been rejected by men in the past. So it’s easier to push away the therapy, and preserve what little sense of self one has. I understand where these people are coming from—and feel compassion for them. But the therapy works—and is not damaging at all. In fact, most of the techniques I’ve worked with are the same tools used for compulsive behaviors (such as 12-step programs and emotional work).
Less helpful, or even harmful?
I definitely feel more positive and confident about myself as a person. I am more secure in the knowledge that I am worthy and equal to others—which makes me more open to REAL friendships and closeness with men, which is what I really always craved. I am very grateful to my wife for standing by me—which has been a great source of self-esteem. I am grateful to have become a father—