I patronized that park for several months, usually right after a fruitless night of cruising at a Gay bar. I didn't go every night; nobody did! Sometimes the weather was bad. Even when it wasn't, the thought of encountering strangers in the dark was always enough to give you pause.
It was frightening! What if you should run into a rapist, or a mugger, or a murderer? If you were victimized, who would come to your aid in a setting like that? I'm pretty sure nobody would have lifted a finger to help.
There were other dangers to consider as well. Uniformed policemen would sometimes appear on the scene, shining powerful flashlights into the foliage. If they caught unfortunate pairs of paramours in the act, the offenders would be hauled off to jail and subjected to public exposure. This was a most fearsome prospect if you happened to be married! And during more than one moonlight rendezvous, I spied wedding rings on the fingers of my sex partners.
Also, f*g-bashing teenagers would occasionally invade the park. Some of the men I trysted with warned me about these boys. In nervous whispers, they told me how several Gay men had been beaten up leaving the area, while others had been subjected to vicious dog attacks. One evening, I actually saw two young men stalking through the brush with a snarling bulldog on a leash. They were joking loudly about how the park was a good place to shop for "queer dog food." I think it may have been a pit bull terrier they had with them. I didn't know anything about pit bulls back then, but I was terrified just the same; I ran like the Devil all the way back to my student apartment!
Make no mistake about it, men who are hooked on outdoor sexual encounters take a tremendous risk! They always have to be on the lookout for police cruisers and gangs of homophobic thugs; if they aren't, their stolen moments of passion can cost them dearly!
I was hooked. I hated what I was doing, but I did it anyway. "Dr. Livingston" told me that this was the best way to meet Gay men, and I believed it. Despite the horror of intimacy I regularly encountered in my sex partners, I hung on to the hope that one night I'd meet a man who'd become my lover; then, finally, there'd be no need to return to the park. I thought I'd actually met that man once; he was a lower-level administrator at Boston University. We slept together a few times in my student apartment when my roommate was away, but that's as far as it went.
A proud West Indian Christian (that's what he claimed) with conservative views, he made it clear to me that "shacking up with another man" was not in his future! In accordance with his strict cultural values, he planned to marry a woman and father children with her. He absurdly thought of homosexual desire as something he could turn on and off at will. He said he only wanted men for an erotic diversion; the idea of falling in love with one was quite beyond his comprehension. So much for the idea of him becoming my lover; we might as well have stayed in the park! Trysting at my apartment became too risky, and he never took me to his own home, so our affair ended up being very brief. To my great dismay, I soon found myself back in the great outdoors!
How long would I have gone on risking my life in those woods? How long before I contracted AIDS or some other awful disease? How long would it have been before I was arrested, or robbed, or killed? I give thanks to God, because He saw fit to save me from my own lack of good judgment. He did it in a relatively gentle way, too, although I certainly didn't think so at the time.
On that last night in Gay Man's Hell, I initiated a nightmarish sexual encounter. I'll save you the lurid details, but I will tell you this much: It involved more than one man. It was dangerous. It was humiliating. It was unsanitary. It was nothing less than revolting, but somehow, I couldn't stop myself! It's like I was an airplane set on automatic pilot. I had become so morally debased that I just didn't care anymore.
At the last possible minute, I suddenly came to my senses; I leapt to my feet and bolted from the park in tears. Never before or since have I ever felt so disgusted with myself! When I got back to my apartment, I tried to cleanse away the evidence of my shameful act with disinfectant and hot water, but I still felt dirty. It took several weeks for the feeling to subside.
Long before then, I promised the Lord that I would never return to that park. I told Him if the only way to find love was to continue putting myself in such appalling situations, I would rather be celibate for the rest of my life. I meant it, too!
I won't lie to you and say I never again found myself seeking sexual gratification in dangerous places; I've slipped up a few times. I still struggle with self-destructive impulses, just like many other Gay men do. For the most part, though, I've honored my promise to God. I've respected the unique sexuality He gave me, even though it has meant enduring long periods of celibacy. It's still not easy to meet men, especially since I've sworn off going to bars; and whatever charms I may possess have diminished considerably now that I've grown older and (much) heavier.
I still haven't found the kind of committed relationship I want. I may never find it. Yet I know from experience that the ends can never justify the means; if I disgrace myself in the process of acquiring what I want, won't the object of my desire also be disgraced?
I won't allow Satan to control me again! Now that I've fully reclaimed my Christian faith, I can never let myself revert into the wanton creature I became in that park, no matter how hard frustration pushes me in that direction. In the seventh chapter of Matthew, the Messiah left us these instructions:
MATTHEW 7: 13, 14
Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it . . . the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Historically, the easy road has been anything but easy for Gay men to travel. Denying our true identities as the world demanded we do led many of us to take hellish detours. We found ourselves searching for the truth in public restrooms, truck stops, bathhouses, dirty bookstores and darkened woods. Of course, you can't find the truth in Gay Man's Hell! All you find there is degradation and death. Some of us realized that before it was too late, and lived to tell tales like mine. Some of us didn't, and perished.
Thirty years ago, there was nothing like the affirmation of LGBT identity that we see today. Society taught us that our love was illegitimate and perverse, and like impressionable children, we accepted that teaching. The Stonewall rebellion notwithstanding, we had very little self-esteem. Closeted or not, we were willing to perpetuate a clandestine culture born of oppression and shame. We even deceived ourselves into thinking it represented a kind of sexual freedom!
Some of us still think it's fun to court danger. There are Gay men who stubbornly refuse to let go of this notion that having sex means slinking around in the dark like a criminal. If you're a hedonist, maybe it makes sense to think that way (see my essay titled "The Pleasure Seekers"). However, you can't call yourself a Christian and indulge in that kind of behavior! The Christ told His disciples as much in no uncertain terms:
MATTHEW 5: 14-16
You are the light of the world . . . no one, after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in Heaven.
LGBT people carry the light of Jesus Christ within their souls! We possess Fullness, the androgynous power that Adam had before his female essence was removed to create Eve. Gnostic scripture teaches that this power so threatened the forces of evil, they imprisoned Adam in the Earthly realm. Then they wrested it away from him. Yet, the Lord gives us this very same power as a birthright.
It's so much more than sexual orientation! It's perception. It's creativity. It's spirituality. It's a miraculous gift that connects us to Heaven and symbolizes God's Covenant with mankind (is it a coincidence that the rainbow is both our official insignia and the Scriptural sign of the Covenant? I don't think so). Regardless of how fiercely bigots try to impose shame on us and force us under the bushel basket, we must never go there! We must endeavor to live our lives openly, as the Savior commanded.
We must free ourselves of shame and the desire to do shameful things. The term "Gay Pride" has a spiritual as well as a sexual meaning, and the sooner we realize it, the better! Once we've fully accepted the truth of who we are, the compulsion to act out feelings of low self-esteem will disappear. Then we can put the shame where it belongs: On Satan and those poor, deluded souls he compels to curse what the Lord in His wisdom has created!
MARK 12: 10, 11
(Jesus Christ said) Have you not read this scripture: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is amazing in our eyes?"