After my graduation in December 2006 from the Love In Action program, my life felt like the song “Disturbia” by Rhianna. The beginning lines from that song always make me think about my experience there. It goes:
“What’s wrong with me? Why do I feel like this? I’m going crazy now…nothing heard, nothing said, can’t even speak about it. On my life, on my head, don’t wanna think about it. Feels like I’m going insane. It’s a thief in the night to come and grab you…a disease of the mind, it can control you. I feel like a monster.”
Unfortunately, my time there was not finished, as I was soon to find out. When I left the program, I was informed that I was going to do counseling sessions over the phone with Tommy once a week. Once again, because I didn’t want to hurt my family, and truthfully thought that something was horribly wrong with me, I agreed to do these sessions. But over the next few months, these sessions did not help me at all…as I continually “relapsed” into my homosexual fantasies. One of these “relapses” has stayed with me to this day. I went to a local bookstore and bought a gay magazine, but when I got home, I immediately felt guilty and threw it away. That was when I made a huge mistake. I told Tommy about what happened, thinking that I had had a significant “victory” in my struggle against homosexuality, since I threw the magazine away. Little was I to know that he had been communicating with my parents regularly and informing them on my progress. When he told my parents about the magazine they decided that drastic action needed to be taken and I was grounded from my car. As a homeschooled boy, the only outlet to the outside world was my car and my part-time job at a local bowling alley. That independence was taken away, and for the next two months I was required to be accompanied at all times by my parents and/or brother, in case I was going to “relapse” into my sin again. During this time, my parents also informed me that I was to go back to Love In Action on my eighteenth birthday, on May 5, 2007. But once again, I was not given much of a “choice” in the matter. They informed me that I would either go into the Love In Action program, or be kicked out of the house, because they could not have an unrepentant homosexual living under their roof. But this time there was a twist in their threat – they told all of my extended family, from my grandparents to my aunts and uncles – to not take me in if I decided against going into the program.
With what seemed like no other choice, I entered the program for a second time on May 7, 2007. Again, I was scared, but at the same time determined that I would not disappoint my family, conquer this “demon” ,and finally make God happy. Yet though I had this determination, small doubts began to form in my mind on whether Love In Action was telling me the truth. As before, I was told by counselors and guest speakers, that God did not want me to be gay, that homosexuality was an affront to God, and that I needed to get back to heterosexuality – because that was how He created me to be. I was again told that my lack of healthy male relationships was what led me to this struggle, that if I could find good straight male friends, my feelings for men would start to dissipate. I again took moral inventory’s, met at least once a week – sometimes more – with Tommy, and went on things known as “trigger trips” – a “special” event that I had not been able to do when in the Refuge program. On a “trigger trip”, all of us clients at Love In Action would be taken to some place in the “outside world”, eg. the mall, where we would identify “triggers” that led us to want to “act out in our homosexuality”, eg. the Abercrombie and Fitch store. We would then identify these triggers and determine how we would overcome the temptation to think homosexual thoughts when we were released from the program.
Some may ask me why I didn’t leave, for I was “technically” able to – since I was over 18. I have often asked myself the same question…and I know that my answer will not satisfy many people. As stated previously, I was scared– for I had been taught and drilled into me that gays were not going to heaven. I was scared of losing the approval of my parents and family, for being a homeschooled kid, they were the only thing constant in my life. All of these factors, were compounded by an ever present “fear for my life”. Every time that I expressed to Tommy that I wanted to leave, he said that he would not stop me, but that if I did, I would most likely end up with horrible diseases and that I would die within a few years because of my embracing of the “homosexual lifestyle”. Since I did not know any better, and because I trusted him – since he claimed to want what was best for me -I relented and stayed in the program.
Kyle Luebke is an author and public speaker with an interest in LGBT issues, energy policy, and the Canadian-American relationship. Having experienced the pain of reparative therapy, Kyle attempts to use that experience in his writing to speak out against the false information that permeates the dialogue on gay rights. In his spare time, Kyle enjoys reading, hiking in state/provincial parks, camping, and spending time with his husband.
Be sure and check out his blog : An Enduring Vision: One Guys View of LGBT issues, Energy Policy, and Canadian/U.S. Politics