Daryle Duke’s Story

Daryle

Open before God

I am now a 42-year-old male who first felt same-sex attractions when I was fourteen. I was raised as a ‘cradle Anglican’ in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and later made an informed commitment to Jesus Christ. I was baptized at 13, the week before I was confirmed. I have always cherished my Anglican heritage and value the sacramental and Apostolic traditions of the church. I was confused about my homosexual attractions in junior high school. I felt ashamed and embarrassed, sensing how different I was from my peers. My church community, however, was full of supportive friends, and I was part of a vibrant youth ministry all through my teen years, for which I remain very thankful. I had managed to date girls in grade school, but felt a growing attraction to men after puberty, which filled me with fear and confusion. Only God knows how often I prayed and begged Him to change my unwanted orientation. In an abusive cycle of fantasy, pornography, masturbation, guilt, and begging forgiveness, I tried, in my own strength, to turn away from homosexual desire. I agonized for more years than I care to remember.

I regarded homosexual attraction as an error – something to be hidden and defeated. How futile my efforts were! I remember buying or stealing pornography, only to get rid of it a short time later, and all the while pleading with God in grief and confession. This cycle continued well into adulthood. At 22, I moved to a different city to study Psychiatric Nursing. Using pornography as a tension reliever, I came in contact with other men with similar desires, but I was too terrified to ‘cross that line’ behaviorally and to act-out with another person. Feeling frightened, I went to my parish priest who was empathetic and prayerful, but I felt that he did not understand me, and I never went back to see him.

Returning to Winnipeg at 26, I started to tour gay cruising areas in my car, but made no physical contact with anyone for more than a year. Eventually acting out with another man was a very dark day for me. It fairly quickly led to out-of-control behaviors, and the development of a substantial addiction to mostly anonymous sexual contact with other men. My anguish intensified as I kept this life secret. I began dating my future wife, but kept my same-sex attraction hidden from her. I sat in church, as I always had, listening for clues in sermons, and seeking a safe place to unload my burden. I lived in fear that the Lord would give someone a gift of knowledge concerning my behaviors.

I reached the end of my rope one day when I got a call from the Public Health Department. I was named as a possible contact for Chlamydia. Testing was involuntary. If I tested positive, I would have to name all my sexual contacts. It was compulsory. Mercifully, all my tests were negative. I remember receiving a very strong temptation as I stepped off the bus after getting the ‘good news,’ “You’re clean, you can keep doing what you are doing . . . just be more careful.”

But I had made myself a promise: If I’m clean, then I’m going to get help. I immediately went home and made an appointment to see my priest. A long season of counseling began, then a referral to New Direction for Life Ministries, a parachurch ministry that specializes in healing for gender-related issues. It is an affiliate of Exodus North America. I continued in counseling, and later, group therapy. I’ve attended conferences and have received training to assist others who have decided for themselves that same-sex attraction is sinful behavior, not unlike other sinful behaviors that effect people everywhere. I was delighted to discover that my ‘long walk’ of recovery towards greater wholeness has taken a much shorter period of time than did the development of behaviors from my ‘darkest days.’

I remember the most difficult day of my life: telling my girlfriend of my homosexual struggles, and offering her the choice of continuing or ending our relationship. She bravely said “Yes” to us, and we have continued to tackle our issues together. She is now my wife of ten years. My gratitude to her is second only to that of my God, who has been faithful in making all things new in me. We also have two wonderful daughters, ages 16 and 7. Never have I felt so whole or complete. I live differently today, guarding my heart and exercising discipline in my daily life, which is my own responsibility. In essence, this has been both a healing and a maturing process.

My personal commitments reflect my professional ones. Mental health literature contains many valid examples and documented cases of men and women who have successfully changed their sexual orientation. Psychology, Psychoanalysis, Rational Emotive Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Pastoral Counseling attest to the same conclusion: that change is possible, and that determination to change is the key to success. Negative reinforcement, such as an aversion therapy, should never be used. It is also important to realize that the degree of healing is also unique to each individual struggler. I have learned how vital it is to be willing to be open before God and trusted others, and to receive His grace.

Page design ©2005 The Zacchaeus Fellowship – All Rights Reserved
Story © 2004 Daryle Duke. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Photo : Sue Careless