There were many sleepless nights during my time in the New Hope Program. I would often escape into the prayer room after the others went to bed and relish the solitude. The décor of the room amused me. As I sat there alone one restless evening – surrounded by an eclectic hodgepodge of plaid sofas, tacky lamps with yellowed lampshades, and ugly artwork that hung haphazardly from dingy walls – the pervasive musty odor that lingered in the room made me nostalgic. The familiarity of the pungent scent reminded me of a used bookstore I often frequented while living in Los Angeles, and I was flooded with feelings of homesickness for the life I had left behind. I yearned for the freedom I had once enjoyed and taken for granted – the simple freedom to be able to peruse bookstores anytime I wanted – ALONE – without the restrictions of the “three man” rule.
A profound sense of dread overshadowed me that night. My mind was cluttered with worrisome thoughts; and fears of impending doom overwhelmed me, making it nearly impossible to focus on the task that lay ahead. I sat in front of a blank computer screen not knowing where to begin. “God, you’re gonna have to help me out here,” I prayed. I took a deep breath and began to type.
You’re probably wondering why I rushed off to San Francisco in such haste and without much explanation. So much is going on in my life right now, and there’s so much I want to share with you. But I am afraid. Afraid of what you will think of me. I’m afraid that my revelation will estrange us. All I really know is that I believe with all my heart that God has a plan for all of our lives and that the choice rests within each of us as to whether or not we’ll follow His calling. It’s up to us to choose obedience or defiance. The choice is ours. I want to be obedient. I am doing a lot of reflecting – a lot of soul searching. And I have come to the conclusion that I have fallen so short of living the life God demands. Over and over again I have acted impulsively; I have made decisions – selfish decisions – decisions that have hurt others. Even as a Christian, it’s so easy to deviate from the will of God. Many times I have veered off course, taken wrong turns, short cuts. I realize now that I have been out of God’s will for a long time – until now. And I need to be honest with you as I feel that is what God is asking me to do. And so here goes . . . . “
And then I stopped. I read the words I had typed so far. “Holy shit,” I thought to myself. “Am I doing the right thing by coming out in a letter? Am I being a wuss? Is this the easy way out? Will Dad be disappointed in me that I didn’t have the courage to do this face to face . . . or at least over the phone?”
The room was stuffy, and I needed some fresh air – a moment to step away and gather my thoughts. I got up from the coffee stained chair and pushed open the heavy sliding glass door that led out onto a small balcony overlooking Lincoln Avenue, a main thoroughfare that ran through San Rafael. Normally clogged with cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists, the only movement at this ungodly hour was the neighborhood homeless guy pushing his rusted shopping cart down the empty sidewalk. He’d spend the next several hours plundering through recycle bins, hoping to collect enough bottles and cans to buy a little food or beer or whatever it took to numb his painful lot in life.
Lost in my own crazy head, I was suddenly startled by Jason’s high pitched voice, “Lar Bear, whatcha doing out here all by yourself at two o’clock in the morning?” Jason stood there in the doorway clad in his flannel pajama bottoms and signature Mickey Mouse t-shirt. His bed head made me smile.
He cast me a bewildered look. “Huh?”
“Writing a coming out letter to Dad. Is that weird? I feel this intense urge to just do it – spill the beans already – get it over with. Obviously I can’t do it in person. He’s three thousand miles away. And the phone . . . well I don’t think I can muster up the courage to do that. The thought of dead air, silence, a hang up . . . well that scares the heck out of me. Any suggestions, bud?”
He patted me on the back. “Actually Lar, I think a letter is a good idea. It gives him a chance to think about your words, absorb the news, re-read the letter, and formulate a well thought out response. If you feel this is what God is asking you to do, go for it. Do you need my help?”
“Nah, thanks man, but no, this is something I’ve gotta do on my own. Hey . . . what are you doing up anyway? You went to bed hours ago.”
“Just got up to get a drink of water and saw the light on . . . hey, dude, can I at least pray with you?”
“Yah, sure, I’d appreciate that.”
We made our way to one of the sofas and as we sat, Jason put his arm around me. His touch was electric and sent shockwaves throughout my entire body all the way to the tips of my fingers and toes. I wanted so much to kiss him just to see what it would feel like to kiss another man. I felt guilt and shame for having such a disgusting thought and tried hard to dismiss the perverse desire from my head as he began to pray, “Lord, I ask you to guide L.T.’s heart, mind, and fingers as he writes the letter to his dad. I pray that his words will touch his dad’s heart and take his and L.T.’s relationship to a new level. I ask this in Jesus’ name – amen.” We sat in silence for a while before Jason finally excused himself back to bed.
I returned to the computer, and finished my letter.
The reason I fled to the San Francisco with such short notice was to address issues that I’m afraid will destroy me if I don’t face them head on. I came here to once and for all deal with a deep rooted secret I’ve harbored for a long time. You are the first family member I’ve chosen to share this with. It is with great trepidation that I write this letter and whether or not I decide to mail it remains yet to be seen. I don’t know how you are going to react – I am terrified that you’ll reject me. But I am prepared for that. I have a lot of support here, and know that God will take care of me regardless of your reaction – for He has a purpose for my life – I am confident in knowing that He will never fail me.
Dad, for the first time in my life I feel like I am part of a family – a real family – a family that understands me and accepts me for who I am. God is redeeming my childhood – giving me the things I have longed for my whole life. Here in this safe place I often times feel like a little kid. Secure. Loved. Accepted. Here I feel like I belong. To be here in this place is affirming – healing. Here I can let go – laugh, get dirty, and be just as tough as any other guy without fear of shame or ridicule. I have all these wonderful new brothers who understand me – who “get” it. I have always wanted this – this sense of connectedness. I’ve prayed for it – and even though it didn’t come in my timing, God knew the plans He had for me long before I did. He is so awesome, so faithful. I am blessed beyond measure.
Here’s a journal entry from the other day while at Lord’s Land, a Christian retreat located off the Mendocino Coast of northern California – written on January 11, 1996:
“It’s so beautiful here. I loved my wake up call, the cackling of a lone rooster outside of Big House in the wee hours of the morning. Now I am sitting in the prayer chapel, overlooking a gorgeous redwood forest. The walk here was magical – the stillness that only the breaking of dawn can bring, the wetness of the leaves underneath my steps, the dampness hanging in the brush underneath the giant trees, the sounds of small animals awakening to a new day, the sight of deer frolicking in the distance – Lord, bless my day and the day of my brothers also. The Bible gives us only a glimpse of the many wonderful things your son Jesus did. Who can possibly grasp all the miracles He must have performed while here on earth? The lessons he taught? How can we ever completely understand your greatness? All I can possibly do in my feebleness as a human is to forever strive to be in right relationship with you – read your word – be hungry for your word, and seek to know you forever and forever. God, I want to know you; please keep this fire in me burning. I know without a doubt that Jesus came into my life to show me what it means to be a REAL man. Help me become that.”
And so Dad, that is the reason for my speedy departure. I came here to become a REAL man. All my life I have felt so different from other boys and men, left out, rejected – often times feeling like an outsider. I was never good with a ball, and envied you and Charles as you tossed the football back and forth with such ease. I know you loved me as a child – please know that I don’t doubt that. Nonetheless, I don’t think you’ve ever been able to understand me or known how to deal with my apparent differences. So often I’ve felt like a third wheel. Perhaps your being in Vietnam at the time of my birth and not meeting me until I was four months old was the catalyst for my being different. Perhaps it’s because we didn’t bond in those first several weeks of my life. Who knows? That’s one of the possible theories that has been presented to me in recent weeks. Or perhaps it was because of Mom’s inability to appropriately let go . . . but no matter the reason – the good news is it can be overcome. God can change me, and I am confident that He will.
Let me explain what should have happened in my life – yet didn’t. This was what was presented to us in class the other night and, well, I can’t come up with anything else that makes better sense. What happens in a normal boy’s life is this: at birth he bonds with his mother and father, then gradually during the first few months and years of life he begins to be “called” away from mother by father. He engages in more and more father-son activities and bonds more and more with father and learns what it means to be male. Then when he goes to school, he feels secure in who he is as a boy, and relates easily and comfortably with the other boys. As he gets those same-sex needs met emotionally from his father, male coaches, teachers, and peers he becomes increasingly secure in his masculine identity. When puberty hits, he has gotten his same-sex needs met and he is ready to start pursuing the “other” – the feminine – his completion. He starts to notice girls, and they become the object of the sexual energy he is starting to experience.
Dad, that didn’t happen with me. Somewhere along the way there was a break in the normal chain of events that should have occurred. I’m not blaming you. It’s no one’s fault – just part of man’s brokenness and the imperfect world in which we live. The good news is that God is going to heal me! God, in his infinite love for me, has devised a plan to bring wholeness into my life. Through the death of Jesus, healing is possible.
The process began about three years ago when I first confessed to a Christian counselor my homosexual struggles, became involved in support groups, moved to Los Angeles, and began for the first time in my life to develop quality friendships with other men. Thus began the healing process. Just as I am broken relationally, I must be healed relationally. I have to be content, learn to enjoy the process, and wait patiently on God. When I learn what it means to be a man, learn how to relate to other men in positive healthy ways, then I will be able to relate to women in a romantic and sexual way.
Dad, I am in a good place. New Hope Ministries was founded by Frank Worthen. Frank was in the gay “lifestyle” for more than twenty years, and it offered him nothing but emptiness. When he gave his life to Christ he was able to denounce homosexuality as a sin; and this ministry arose from his obedience to the Lord. Now he has a lovely wife and continues to serve as Director of this ministry. As a participant in this program, I am experiencing God’s love, acceptance, and the same sex relationships that will bring healing and restoration.
I hope this helps you understand me better. I pray that you will support and encourage me in this. I know this is probably a lot for you to handle, and if takes a while for you to respond, I understand. Please take your time. It’s okay. I hope this letter is the beginning of you learning to know your son for who he really is. I also hope this letter will mark a new beginning for you as well. I want you to see how God has worked and continues to work in my life. It is my hope and prayer that you will start to desire a personal relationship with Jesus for yourself. I have committed to pray for you daily. I want you to know God! And above and beyond all else, please know that you have been the best father you know how to be, and I love you for that.
I have included some reading materials for you, and a copy of New Hope’s newsletter. As well I have highlighted the dates for family weekend. I really want you to be here.
Later that morning on my way to work, I stopped by the post office. When I returned home that evening Jason greeted me, “Well?”
“Mailed it this morning.”
He pulled me into a tight hug and whispered in my ear, “I’m proud of you man – really proud of you. This is a huge step toward your healing.”
Arm in arm, we made our way to the prayer room to join the others for evening devotions.
L.T. MILLER was born in a small southern town. While in college, he became involved in ex-gay support groups, and in 1996 was accepted into the New Hope Ministries residential program in San Rafael, CA. During his two year stay, he questioned everything until finally he completely abandoned a misguided ideology that made less and less sense. He found a gay church in San Francisco where he was accepted for who he was, and with the loving support of a lesbian pastor he was able to begin life anew as an openly gay man. L.T. Miller is the Ex-Gay Survivor.