In 1990 I moved to Burbank, California. I had 2 female roommates. We decided one weekend to go to the beach to spend time talking about the future. Our dreams, our visions of what we wanted for our lives and how we planned to realize these goals. We found a bed and breakfast close to the beach. After dinner we went down to the beach, which was right behind the B&B. There on the beach was a huge rock, about 9 feet tall. We walked in the sand for a while, letting the ocean wash over our feet. As the sun sank lower toward the horizon, we noticed that the beach had become a bit more deserted. When dark finally settled, we climbed on top of the rock and started to talk. I remember one thing that happened to me during the next couple of hours...a sense of hope. We all had common interests and common goals. And it seemed the future was filled with promise and possibility. As it became darker, I began to notice more and more people beginning to walk by, mostly men. Then, as I looked around, I noticed that Lisa and Cece were, in fact, the only 2 women on the beach. We had, apparently, stumbled onto a late night hang out beach for gay men.
As I watched men walking back and forth on the beach, something began to stir in my spirit. I felt blood pounding through my heart. It was an adrenaline rush, as though I had stumbled onto a secret pleasure, some sort of forbidden thrill I had never fully experienced before. I didn’t realize that I was already beginning, even then, to believe in an immediate although counterfeit sense of identity. Up until this point, because of my very strict, fundamental, legalistic religious up-bringing, I tried to keep my life in a quasi-celebate mode, mostly successful; very rarely, not so successful. I ran from my own sexuality to the point of isolation. But, something happened that night that can only be explained as a beginning. Not a journey that leads to life and victory, but to a death of the pursuit of holiness and a conscious descent into my own personal hell. I watched for several hours the dark dance of human desire and need as it paraded by my ‘safe’ place high atop the rock. I began to wonder if I’d been too hard on myself, all my life, by denying myself the chance to seek out a long term relationship with another man. The need to ‘know and be known’ was my deepest, most overpowering desire.
The next morning I made my way back to the beach and the top of the rock with my journal. I knew at that moment that I wanted, needed and longed for the companionship of another man in a close and intimate way. I talked to God and told Him that I knew it wasn’t the best way, not His true way for intimacy, but I wanted it. I longed for someone that would take away my aloneness and my miserable loneliness. I prayed He would have enough grace to forgive me. But, it was time for me to take the risk and move to a different place in my life by finding someone to have a relationship with. I had, in short, artificially manufactured my own ‘spiritual awakening’. So, began my 10 year flight from God into the dark recesses of my own man-made hell. Obadiah 1:3 reads, “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights.”
Soon after the beach experience, I got my first computer, and soon discovered the devious, calculating, tricky, sly, deceitful, untrustworthy, cunning, scheming and ultimately deadly joy of the internet. I found chat rooms. I went into gay chats, and for the first time, felt accepted and significant…that I had finally found the right place for me in the world. Before long, I began to engage in anonymous sexual encounters. At first there was excruciating guilt and determination to never go there again. But, in time, it got easier. The guilt began to subside and was replaced with a new sense of belonging and acceptance. For a few hours, I could escape into a world where I was the focal point of someone’s need…even though they were strangers. For a few hours, I was important to someone. For a few hours, I wasn’t ugly. During those hours, the need for affection was stronger than the fear of death. And during those hours, it was worth the risk. I was still waiting to hear someone/anyone say, “I’m proud of you.”